Tag Archives: Comfort Zone

Why Your Inner Critic Is Your Worst Enemy – And What To Do About It

IMG_0035by: Bevan Rees, Koach.net

Why Your Inner Critic Is Your Worst Enemy – And What To Do About It
A long time ago, when most of our species were living in caves, survival was generally more difficult than it is today. So, responding to the almost constant threat of death at the teeth of wild animals, the human brain made some intelligent adjustments. It began to prioritise negative judgements, because they kept us alive longer. Let’s imagine, for example, that your troglodyte ancestor stepped out of the cave one morning to stretch his legs, and saw a brown shape behind a nearby bush. If he thought that the shape was a rock, but it turned out to be a sabre-toothed tiger, it would likely be the last mistake he ever made. But, if he thought the shape was a tiger and it turned out to be a rock, he might be a bit embarrassed, but he could make the same mistake a hundred times and not suffer any major consequences. Which is why humans developed the negativity bias: the brain’s tendency to react more strongly to negative stimuli, or even the expectation of negative stimuli. It’s why the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for managing the fight-or-flight response – dedicates two thirds of its neurons to negative experiences. And it accounts for why we are so adept at fearing the worst, despite the lack of concrete evidence for doing so. In Mark Twain’s words, ‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.’
For millennia, this programming did an amazing job of preserving human life, but as civilized life has become safer and more predictable, it is no longer as necessary. Yet, the negativity bias prevails, as does the voice of the negativity bias: the inner critic. The inner critic’s job is to talk you out of risk and threat, even if that threat is only failure or embarrassment rather than death. We all know it because we all have one. It’s the voice that tells you that you’re crazy to apply for that new job post, or start a new business, or move to a new country. It’s the voice that tells you that you’re not intelligent enough, qualified enough or brave enough. And it’s powerful. As Ilene Gregorian, mindfulness trainer for US Special Forces, says, ‘You can take yourself down with your thoughts faster than any enemy can.’
Overcoming the inner critic and its seeds of self-doubt is one of the biggest challenges on the path to self-development, and one of the earliest you’ll encounter. Though it can be subtle, it usually kicks in as soon as you try to shift from the status quo and is a big contributor to a resistance to change. Many strategies for dealing with it are combative and rely on willpower to defeat the repetitive self-assassination (ignore that voice in your head!). But this is often a superficial approach that fails to address the underlying causes, because even though we all have an inner critic, the degree to which it affects our lives varies from person to person, and time to time. It peaks when we are feeling unconfident and is quietest when we feel success, and is a function of the unique psycho-emotional matrix of every individual. So, what can be done about it? Here are 3 suggestions:

Meditate
Yes, you’ve heard this one before, because everyone seems to be punting the virtues of meditation. And that’s because it works. The more research is done on meditation – especially mindfulness-based meditation – the more evidence there is for its multitudinous benefits. Among them is a deeper familiarity with the habitual processes of the mind. Through even 10 minutes of consistent daily mindfulness practice, you will become acquainted with the seemingly endless internal chatter that fills your mind, as well as the quiet space that holds it. You will be able to identify the voice of the inner critic and view it as an object of your awareness, allowing you to see it for what it is: a limited survival guide trying to keep you safe, rather than a speaker of the truth. Creating this distance and perspective during meditation grants progressively stronger ability to do the same in the normal run of your day, allowing you to make more intelligent choices. To get started in meditation, join the worldwide community, download the free app and use the guided meditations at Insight Timer, or sign up for Headspace’s fantastically accessible meditation program.

Ask for help
One of the problems with the inner critic is that it is so difficult to catch in action. It could be the primary reason you are blocked in trying to transform a particular aspect of your life, but you might not be aware of it. A conversation across the kitchen table with a friend or partner could make you feel better and see the way you’ve been sabotaging yourself, but if you’re feeling genuinely stuck you might need to enlist some professional help. This is the service provided by most coaches and mentors, though for stalled growth due to longstanding psychological difficulties it is advisable to see a therapist too. Overcoming your own internal monologue requires insight and awareness, as well as action-oriented plans and practices – coaching can help with both.

Be compassionate
When things are challenging and stress is high, our inner critic is usually in full flow, making it very clear why the world is bad and everything is going to go wrong. At such times, compassion may seem like a strange attitude to prescribe, but it is the antidote to an over-activated negativity bias. The 2016 State of The Heart Report – a global EQ study of 100,000 people in 126 countries in different professional sectors, revealed that emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion are on the decline. A significant factor in these findings is the global rise in stress levels. It makes intuitive sense that the more stressed we are, the less compassionate we are. But this relationship also works in reverse: the more compassionate we are, the less stressed and anxious we feel. Compassion, particularly self-compassion, can be trained, and allows us to integrate anxiety or stress while remaining more open to new experience. In practical terms, this means acknowledging the inner critic and accepting it, while still being positively engaged in your life. As a start, use Dr Kristin Neff’s 5-minute self-compassion break to connect with this powerful approach.

 

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Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

 

 

 

7 ways expats struggle more than most

The life of an expat may seem like a glamorous one. Many expats move abroad for better job opportunities, or for the lifestyle, or even for the fantastic weather and to enjoy a big adventure. From the outside, life seems full of possibilities and excitement…but being an expat is fraught with an array of unique problems that those remaining in their birth country may never understand.

Here are seven ways expats struggle more than others.

1. Communication barriers

Most expats speak English, but that doesn’t help when you are relocated to a country where they don’t. Even if you speak English at home and at work and you are doing your best to learn the host country’s language, it takes time to settle in, and in the meantime you are left struggling with issues that would normally be a walk in the park. Simple things like letters from the doctor’s office or the council; your television not working but not understanding the message that pops up on the screen; calling a company on the phone and not understanding the automated recording or what number to press – these tiny little inconveniences can lead to a sense of frustration, anxiety and in some cases anger or feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.

2. Culture

One of the many reasons that expats look for work abroad is to submerge themselves in a new culture, but the flipside of that is that some cultures are hard to integrate into and difficult to align with your own customs and expectations…no matter how hard you try. Coupled with the communication barriers, it can sometimes feel very isolating and frustrating, you may feel cut off from your community and confused – or even worse, regretful of your move.

3. Losing your identity

Most expats move abroad for work – but if you move as a family, what about the other partner? What are they expected to do? Even though in a lot of cases one partner has moved the family because their new wage justifies the life change, the second partner is left to carve out a new identity for themselves. Do they embrace this change and start a new career? Train in something new? Reinvent themselves? Or will they be left feeling inferior, lost and unsure of their new role? These feelings of uncertainty, and sometimes resentment, can have a negative effect on the entire family and put pressure on the marriage. Without the usual support network around you, this shift can be even harder to manage.

4. Relocating family

It’s hard enough to move abroad and start afresh by yourself or as a couple, but what if you’re also trying to settle your children into a new school and a new way of life? Although children are pretty adaptable, and the children of expats probably more so than most, the knock-on effect of an anxious child can put pressure on the parent and affect marriages and alter the family dynamic.

5. Feelings of isolation

It takes a long time to create a community around you and to make friends. As a child, making friends and connecting with people is a normal part of life – but as you get older if becomes more forced and harder to do. When you are busy at home with family, and at work, how do you go out there and force yourself to get involved in your community and seek alliances with others?

An expat life can be a lonely one at times. It’s difficult to be separated from good friends and family, and it’s hard to live without emotional or practical support at hand, which is why some expats lose confidence or suffer from anxiety issues which they may previously not encountered.

6. Uncertainty

With the current political and financial climate, no job is a guaranteed job for life. So what happens when you experience feelings of uncertainty but you are abroad and dependent on that one job that brought you there? What if you are unhappy but there are limited options outside of your current role? When most people don’t like their job they are free to seek another nearby – but for an expat, that move is likely to be a huge one, one that affects the lives of the entire family including the children’s education, the partner’s job and the family’s lifestyle. When you feel like you lack choice in your career, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, stress, depression and ill health.

7. Lack of confidence

What makes us feel confident? The decisions we make in life, the encouragement and support of friends and family, our sense of worth at home and at work, and our own definition of who we are in society as a whole. So what happens when we are stripped of all of that? How do we feel when we are in a foreign country where everything we know, and everything that we feel defines us, is no longer the same? It takes on average a year to settle into a new country, and in that time you can experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

Being an expat is not all negative, far from it, or millions around the globe wouldn’t be jumping from country to country chasing exciting new job opportunities – but it is challenging.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

 

 

 

 

ARE YOU LISTENING? ARE YOU CONNECTING?

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By: Anja Uitdehaag

 “Everyone you meet has something to teach you.”  – unknown

Everybody networks. Whether your networking is done on a personal or professional level, the goal is the same: to cultivate and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with a mix of people with whom you can share ideas and knowledge.

In business, we all know we need to network more but so few of us take the time to get out there and make ourselves known to the community. I believe this is for a few reasons:

  • People don’t like doing things outside their “comfort zone”
  • We tell ourselves we’re too busy
  • We ask ourselves “what’s in it for me?”

The truth is you only get out of it what you put into it…

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 25: I’m a believer

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

Things are going well. I have positive noises around me – again no firm contracts but lots of warm hopefuls. Eight people are actively looking for Mirror Mirror for their contacts, and eight companies are giving me positive signals. That takes me back to making sure my current cherished FIRST client is going well. It is actually, but in explaining Mirror Mirror to people and seeing it come to life, I found myself pondering how little effort it can take for people to get aligned and how valuable that alignment is.

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Lindsay’s In Business; Part 17: Sensing and adjusting

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

A few things. Firstly – finally, I think we have landed the USP. It’s strange, but some things that seem easy just seem to go on without landing for MUCH longer than you would like. Here it is – I hope you like it: Continue reading

Lindsay’s In Business: part 14: Bring it on 

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by: Lindsay Uittenbogaard

What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

 Even thought my feet are killing me and I’d love to sleep for a whole day, my mind is whirring. It’s full of excitement, new inputs, ideas and directions. I’m at Heathrow airport waiting for my flight back to Amsterdam after yesterday’s business breakfast in London and several meetings subsequently.

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UNDERSTANDING MYSELF

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by Anja Uitdehaag

“The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.” – Erikson

 It is very easy to confuse “What we do” with “who we are”.

When I was younger, I associated job title and fitting into a group with my self-worth. I didn’t realise how much I drew upon my work as the source of my identity. I had spent so much of my life working toward what I thought were my important life goals only to find out that this was not the case.

I ended up thinking ‘There must be more to life, or to me than this’?

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