During any transformation, you can expect some resistance or return to past behaviors. Often these obstacles are driven by limiting thoughts and behaviors. Discovering and understanding these regressive patterns will empower you to bounce back quickly. These setbacks often creep up as an inner voice that stops us from wanting to let go or change.

Our inner voice criticizes, judges, and is our habitual way of thinking about who we are, what we do, what we say, and how we act.

When your inner critic is loud, you may lose sight of all objectivity and live in an automatic reacting position. By becoming aware and understanding more about the why behind this, you can begin to accept and control how you respond, especially in times of stress and uncertainty.

It’s notable to acknowledge that your inner critic has protected you since childhood.

It has helped you stay out of trouble by teaching you how to stay safe, do well, and avoid displeasing those crucial to your survival. However, you’re no longer a child and have built your own values, beliefs, and ways of doing things and can think for, decide for, and protect yourself.

Begin to quiet your inner critic by witnessing it in action.

By taking a witness stance and observing a situation objectively, you can listen to and accept what your inner critic is saying but not necessarily be swayed by it. Your inner critic won’t go away, but it will become less capable of taking charge. You can then proactively manage your response instead of automatically reacting.

When you’re in danger, your survival mechanisms will kick in. You won’t need to think or consider them. However, in other circumstances when your inner critic is running the show, you may find yourself:

  • Ruminating back and forth about something.
  • Not being able to let go – you must be right.
  • Judging and saying it “should be” this way.

To help you uncover why your inner critic is appearing, spend time understanding:

  • When does your inner critic become most active?
  • Where and when in your life does it crop up? What’s happening at the time?
  • What purpose is it trying to serve?

Then ask yourself:

  • Is this thought pattern still relevant?
  • What benefit do I get by holding on to it?
  • How would I feel if I let go of this belief pattern?

From there, spend some time envisioning how your life could improve if you said farewell to what’s holding you back. In “The Three Faces of the Mind” by Elaine De Beauport, she shared a great metaphor for managing setbacks when we find ourselves in the grip of an old pattern:

“I grab the steering wheel as if I had driven off the main highway and found myself driving in a ditch along the road. I do not have to lose control. I have to hold onto the steering wheel firmly and get my vehicle back on the main road again.”

Most importantly, don’t give up.

Treat yourself as kindly as you would a loved one or friend. To help you, try out these five steps to free yourself from what’s restricting you. You can also learn more about what may be holding you back by taking the iEQ9 Enneagram assessment and determining your growth path forward. These insights will help you become more attuned and open, and less fixated on your personality’s defense structures that may be holding you back.

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