There’s a concept in coaching variously called the Saboteur, the Gremlin or the Inner Critic. You can probably guess what it is … that small voice which at the most inconvenient moments whispers in your ear:
Are you sure you can handle this?
What makes you think you can do this?
Isn’t there something else you should be doing?
Who do you think you are?
You’re wasting your time, this will never work.
The Saboteur nibbles away at your confidence, undermines your success, and takes all the fun out of things. It can stress you out, wind you up, and grind you down. It’s good and important to have an internal set of standards that you measure yourself against (see my last post on integrity for more on this) but if the Inner Critic becomes destructive rather than constructive, it’s like a friendship that’s gone toxic.
One of the ways in which we can combat the Saboteur is to recognise its existence. What does it actually say? When does it usually strike? These are ways in which we can separate the Saboteur from healthy self-evaluation. Rather than swatting the question away like an irritating fly, answer it with the truth, rather than the false evidence with which it confronts you: ‘Yes, I can handle this. I’ve prepared and I have everything I need to do this.’ This isn’t a one-off quick fix, it’s something we need to keep working on.
On a similar theme, Eleanor Roosevelt once said ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’. This reminded of something else I read on a blackboard outside a café the other day: I’d like to offer it as today’s pebble for you to ponder:
If your friend spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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