5 Tips to Tame Your Inner Critic and get out of your Midlife Muck!
One of the things I routinely hear from women in either the Midlife Crisis or Midlife Muck phase of their Midlife Transition is that they feel stuck.
Things aren’t working in their life, and they crave something different, but they either don’t know what they want, or they feel they have no way to make those changes happen.
Even if they have the vision to see new options to improve their lives, there’s usually a long list of reasons why they can’t follow those paths, so they stay stuck and frustrated.
There may be many reasons for being in that predicament, but I’ll wager one of the chief reasons is your Inner Critic is ruling the roost and doing whatever it can to ensure you stay comfortably stuck right where you are.
You likely don’t even realize to what extent these little balls of not-so-helpful energy are operating!
Getting unstuck means coming face to face with these voices, and their underlying beliefs, to establish a new relationship with your fears, doubts, and Inner Critics.
The beauty of this plan is that you’ll prove wrong all the untruths your Critics want you to believe.
What is your Inner Critic?
Your Inner Critic voice that you’re likely most familiar with is the one that tries to tear you down:
“You’re not smart enough…”
“Ugh...you shouldn’t have eaten dessert last night…”
“She does that so much better than you...why do you even bother trying?”
“Who do you think you are to go for that promotion?”
While it may be easy to hate this side of yourself or call it names, this part of you exists for an excellent reason: Its sole objective is to protect you from harm and keep you safe.
In that sense, your Inner Critic is your very own bodyguard!
Unfortunately, your Inner Critic doesn’t have the gift of logic and analysis, so from its perspective, putting your hat in the ring for a promotion is on the same level of harm as being chased by a starving tiger.
So when you give it full power over your life, it doesn’t make the best decisions, and you operate well below your potential. Your dreams never turn into reality, and you likely feel more regrets than you’d like.
Your Inner Critics are born at some point in your past in response to a situation - real or perceived - where you felt threatened or hurt. In that instance, it spins to life with the single objective of preventing you from ever feeling that sensation again!
Unfortunately, since it was likely born when you were a child, it stays at that age, and it doesn’t understand that you are much more experienced at life now and can handle things you might not have been able to as a child.
But, these Inner Critics are sneaky! They not only show up in the obvious ways by telling you that you’re not good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, but they also show up by trying to reinforce “good” behaviors that keep you reined in.
Your Inner Critics are behind your perfectionism, your indecisiveness, and your need to stick to your to-do list with an iron fist. It’s behind the “shoulds” and the “should nots” that swirl through your mind each day.
They use these tactics with precision and expertise from years of practice. As a result, you stay stuck on the familiar and comfortable path, and your deeper desires for yourself and your life remain just out of reach.
How the Inner Critic keeps you Stuck in the Midlife Muck
Since the Inner Critics are there to keep you safe and in familiar territory, it will do whatever it can to keep you exactly where you are right now. It doesn’t want you veering off this path because who knows what kind of devastation you may encounter!
It doesn’t understand that you may discover opportunities that light your soul on fire, or that you may make new connections that lift you closer to those deeper desires.
When you’re smack dab in the middle of the Midlife Muck, you’re feeling a sense of desperation to change some things. You’re bored, unfulfilled, and frustrated.
You know the life you’ve created for yourself isn’t quite working out as well as you anticipated (or it used to work perfectly fine, but it isn’t anymore).
Every day, you’re faced with the desire to make changes, but you feel stuck and helpless as to what needs to change or how to go about doing that.
Guess what? Your inner critics are responsible for keeping you in that blind, confused state. They don’t want you to see options, choices, alternatives.
They know you’re not happy where you are, but they also know how your current existence works. They’re much more comfortable with familiar, regardless of whether the familiar makes you happy, or leaves you feeling depleted and drained.
How to handle the Inner Critic to get Unstuck
To get out of the Midlife Muck and to get unstuck you have to learn to recognize those Inner Critic voices and stand up to them.
Here are 5 tips for managing those voices:
Firstly, acknowledge that the Inner Critic(s) are trying to help you and they’re doing it out of love for you. Gratitude will get you a lot farther than resentment!
Next, pay attention to what those naysaying voices are telling you. Keep a journal to jot them down and look for patterns (what they’re telling you when they’re speaking the loudest, etc.)
Now, prove the Inner Critics wrong! If those voices are routinely telling you that taking a certain step or trying something different isn’t a good idea, stand up to it and try it anyway. As soon as you do that thing and it doesn’t blow up, the Inner Critic recedes because you proved it wrong.
But, don’t ignore your Inner Critic. This voice is part of you and wants to be heard. Just like any child, if you ignore it, it’ll only get louder and annoy you even more until you acknowledge it. You can always listen to what it has to tell you, then kindly reject it.
Finally, work with a coach (like me!.) Inner critics are sneaky, and many of the Inner Critics at work are several layers under the surface and are difficult to unearth on your own. If you continually find yourself stuck and unsure how to get unstuck, give yourself a hand by working with someone trained in how to bring those little critters to the surface!
In general, when your Inner Critics are the loudest, it’s because you’re on to something good, so use that as an inner clue and follow that as your lead for taking big, bold steps for yourself!
So, hear those voices, thank them, and for goodness sakes, do it anyway!