Making peace with your critical judge
There’s a critical judge that runs in my head. I’ve named her CJ for short. She is very opinionated, and often hassles me about my choices. Recently I was deliberating some business options and realized that I felt a little anxious. While not a foreign feeling, it’s not my usual response to tough times. So I decided to just sit with the feeling to try and discover what was going on.
I had been considering some options that would require me to show more vulnerability. Like what I’m doing now – writing this article. My goal is to speak my truth, with respect and empathy.
In the past, CJ has kept me in hiding to protect me from potential embarrassment or judgement. I appreciate her care, but having walls isn’t the answer. I know because I’ve lived my life trying to protect myself from the judgement of others. It may have served me at one time, but I don’t want to live that way any longer.
If you know me, you might not have known about my walls, as I’ve become quite adept at protecting myself while not appearing to be protecting myself. While I am confident about a lot, especially my business talents, I’m not always so confident about exposing the deeper, more tender parts of me.
What about you? Does this ever happen, where your personal judge talks you out of doing what they deem risky?
Would you like to take back the control you’ve ceded to them?
Here’s how I handled it.
I’m still sitting. I’m listening. Then, like someone who has lost touch with reality, I begin to ask CJ some questions. Like, what’s going on, and why do you feel anxious? I listen. After a few quiet moments, some thoughts begin to form. I realize that the anxiety is a signal from CJ that she thinks we’re moving into a danger zone. That if I choose to show my tenderness, it could be painful, and that some might say it’s unprofessional or inappropriate. Ok, I get that. In her own way, she’s trying to protect me.
I wasn’t satisfied to end our talk there, so I press on.
Because I’ve decided to move ahead with my vulnerability unveiling anyway, the question becomes, what to do with CJ. I ask her, how can we work together on this?
Her response? I just want a seat at the table. I just want to be able to voice my concerns and opinions, to offer suggestions, and to be heard.
Bam! That’s it?
I can do that!
I can give her the opportunity to state her case, knowing I’ll then be free to make my decision without further judgement, harassment, or whining.
Now, when I hear CJ start, I have a new response. Instead of arguing or ignoring, I give her the space to state her case. Then, behaving like a gracious grown-up, I thank her for sharing, then weigh her advice and make decisions that I think are best for me. I choose what supports my growth, instead of holding back out of fear.
Would you like to have this conversation with your inner critic? Do you want to learn what they need so you can move forward, take calculated risks, and live a more fulfilled life?
Then, as my mother always said, “There’s no time like the present.”
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