How to Navigate your Inner Critic
Have you ever thought about or acknowledged your inner voice? The one that helps us evaluate and make decisions, but that can sometimes be overly critical, either in work or in your personal life? You know the one. We all have one and, whilst it can at times be debilitating and impact our ability to perform, our inner voice can also be incredibly beneficial.
I was lucky enough to join a group of inspirational senior leaders to discuss the purpose of this inner voice, the challenges we face with it and what key strategies we can employ to navigate its criticality and reframe it into a positive, beneficial inner voice.
This was our 8th Women in Biopharma Leadership event, a successful collaboration between Links and Cormis that enables senior female leaders from the Pharma and Biotech industry to come together and connect whilst facilitating the sharing of ideas & common challenges.
Our guest speakers for this event were Sian Abel, SVP, Head of HR EMEA and RoW at Kyowa Kirin, and Viola Schatzschneider, Associate Behavioural Science Consultant at The Creative Engagement Group who opened this fascinating discussion, sharing both personal & professional experiences as well as strategies they employ to better navigate their inner voices.So, how can we reframe and navigate our inner critic? Here are some thoughts we heard from both our speakers and WBL network:
Write your thoughts down and challenge them
Viola, who spent some time in her role as a behavioural scientist studying the inner voice, spoke about how impactful writing down our thoughts and reviewing these can be. If ever these veer into a critical space, keeping a journal can enable us to recognise this and effectively challenge our inner critics.
Sian who has spent much of her career in HR supporting others, shared the power positive affirmations can have. Whether that’s a mantra you stick to your computer screen or self-affirming words featured in your password, having positive affirmations at your fingertips and regularly connecting with them can help shift our mindsets and create distance from our more negative thoughts.
Take a step back
When we’re in the moment and overwhelmed, it can be a challenge to re-focus our attentions. In Psychology, we talk about different identities. We have a work identity and when feeling overwhelmed, it can help our wellbeing to step away from that work identity and break the intensity by going for a walk, seeing friends, or simply going to get a cup of tea.
Remember to Breathe
Still feeling under pressure and being critical of yourself? Take a deep breath or 5. After 5 deep breaths, you will have slowed down enough to remember the coping strategies that work for you.
One of our leaders shared that they have a ‘pride list’ that they constantly add to when things go well. When they’re doubting themselves or being overly critical of their abilities, they review this to remind themselves that they are great, they are capable and they shouldn’t be so hard on themselves.
Be compassionate with yourself
One participant talked about how they fired their inner critic and created an inner coach instead. Whilst we cannot predict the external triggers that could cause our inner critics to come back, we can be compassionate with ourselves when this does happen. We wouldn’t criticise a colleague or friend in the way we do ourselves, so make sure you practice kindness and self-acceptance. It will go a long way to reframing your inner voice.
But whatever strategies you choose to put into practice, it is important to make them a habit. Habits are familiar and they are easier to draw from than the unknown. Whether you need a self-affirmation pinned to your computer screen, a password that reminds you how great you are, or simply someone with whom to share your thoughts, employ these strategies regularly, acknowledge the impact our inner critics can have and recognise that we have the power to reframe them and come out of our critical bubbles.
The Women in Biopharma Leadership network was founded in 2018 by Cormis and Links Life Sciences, with the specific purpose of bringing together the voices of like-minded senior women in the Pharma and BioTech industries.
To find out about our future events or connect with the WBL network, please head to our LinkedIn group.