My brilliant friend Sandy Scott recently sent out some great advice in her newsletter about ignoring your inner critic and focusing on your inner coach. She describes the qualities of the inner coach as curious, quiet, connected to the head and heart, generating new thoughts, full of love, etc. Pretty much the opposite of the inner critic. I’ve read lots of articles about how to tame my inner critic, but nothing that suggested I might also have an inner coach. That was encouraging.
So I started thinking about times when I had listened to my inner coach verses my inner critic and discovered something interesting. Many of the occasions I remember feeling the most confident and capable were instances when my outer critics were all doubtful. Those well-meaning friends, colleagues, or family members told me not to proceed with something I wanted to do and warned me it would never work. And once they started piling on, my inner coach took over. She boosted me up and said, “Don’t listen to them. They have no idea what they’re talking about. You know what you can do, so do it.” And I did.
Conversely, many of the times my inner critic gained the upper hand were occasions when my outer coaches were cheering me on. “Oh, you’d be great at that,” they said. “Go for it. This is perfect for you.” And somehow, the pressure of their confidence in me turned on my inner critic. “Don’t listen to them,” he said. “They’re giving you too much credit. They’re just projecting on you what they’d like to see. They don’t really believe you can do it.”
Isn’t that odd? You would think success would come when our inner coaches lined up with our outer coaches, but that doesn’t appear to be necessary. And you would think that failure would be assured when our inner critics lined up with our outer critics, but that doesn’t seem to be true, either.
Really, in the end, the only voice that truly matters is that of your Higher Self. And if you read the definition of Higher Self, it sounds an awful lot like the description Sandy had for our inner coaches. Sounds to me like your inner coach and your Higher Self work in tandem.
So the next time your Higher Self gifts you with an idea that feels so right, don’t doubt it. Reach out for that inner coach. Picture her standing by the finish line urging you on, and then start running.
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Also published on Medium.