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Find It Hard to Break Bad Habits or Form Good Ones? Check Your Self-Talk!

The inner critic… do we all have one? No, but the vast majority of us do. The real question is, what is it saying? Are you consciously aware of it? What decisions does it make for you?

My first professional coach called the inner critic a gremlin. She was a great help in helping me recognize my inner voice. She helped me realize just how much of my decision-making was driven by this inner critic.

  • It inhibited my relationships, because it caused me to feel self-conscious being my authentic self.
  • It limited my future, as it told me what was and wasn’t possible for me.
  • It stunted my growth, as it told me to defend myself rather than take accountability.

When I first recognized this inner critic, I was pretty mad and it. She gave me permission to express that anger, and assigned homework like putting my gremlin’s face on a balloon, giving it a few good punches, and then popping it.

I wrote down the common things I noticed it saying, mostly that I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t deserving of good things. I can directly attribute this work to launching this business nearly 15 years ago. If I hadn’t have recognized this voice telling me how destined I was to fail, I would have never told that voice to shut the hell up!

That voice didn’t go away. It still shows up, and I am grateful for it. Because you know what? Sometimes I am not my highest self, and it shows up to tell me where there is room to grow and love me through it.

I have found that the key to growing consciously is not to make the inner critic an enemy, but to realize the inner critic is YOU, and to start turning your inner critic into a constructive conscious coach who speaks kindly to you and loves you unconditionally.

I once had a coach help me understand if I didn’t have a great relationship with money, I need to think of money as someone I’m dating and wish to attract. How am I regarding money? Do I resent money? Do I expect that it will go, so I put my guard up and refuse to welcome it in the first place? Do I do things to make money know how special it is to me, what a priority it is to me? How am I treating money?

When I thought to apply this lesson to my inner critic, my conscious growth expanded exponentially!

The people who have been influential in shaping us are people. They have not always been their highest selves, and unfortunately, we often define ourselves by those moments. These moments can create trauma and wounds that we may never know need to be healed unless we become aware of them. They form beliefs about our relationship to this world, what’s for us and what’s against us. And, they contribute to the fuel our inner critic uses to “save us” from experiencing that rejection again.

When you tune into your inner critic, do you hear your own voice, or the voices of others who have projected their own insecurities onto you? When I tune in while in a deeply reflective state of mind, I hear my own voice, but I flash back to moments when others shrunk my sense of self.

I’ll be real with you – this can be painful to relive. I recommend journaling. Imagine that you, present day as your highest self, could intervene with your younger self, and, like the parent you want to be, teach your younger self that those hurtful words and/or actions were not about you! They are not the truth. Tell your younger self what the truth is!

You might think this is woo woo crazy stuff, but you already have a voice that speaks to you. It’s already you, so you might as well speak to yourself as your highest self – kindly, with compassion and grace.

Do you feel engaged, inspired, and inclined to do what a bully tells you? Do you want to succeed for this bully, or do you want to sabotage this bully?

When you want to form a good habit or break a bad habit, your conscious mind attempts to give your unconscious mind an order. Your unconscious mind likes to take orders, but like you, it might take or leave orders based on the kind of rapport it has with the “boss.” Otherwise, it will continue along the path of least resistance, which is to keep listening to the inner critic.

We make what is conscious unconscious, or automatic, through repetition, which can be accelerated when the mind is in the most receptive state. In order to make your unconscious inner critic the kind of loving, inspiring leader you want to listen to, be intentional, kind, and patient with yourself. Have regular pep talks with yourself. Send yourself internal verbal votes of confidence. Affirmations have been clinically proven to produce results.

Habits go from a push to a pull once your unconscious mind starts to cooperate. Just like any good leader will get the best results in the short and long-term by inspiring his/her team with a compelling vision and by appealing to their highest selves, you will find good habits more easily form and bad habits more easily break when you convert your inner critic to your most powerful advocate and cheerleader.

Hard Habit to Break (2006 Remaster)

Provided to YouTube by Rhino/Warner RecordsHard Habit to Break (2006 Remaster) · ChicagoChicago 17℗ 1984 Warner Records Inc.Guitar, Keyboards: Bill ChamplinB…

Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. As an instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she has helped two of her students win the 2018 National Competition to be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, to win the 2019 People’s Choice Award, and to land in the top 8 during the (virtual) 2020 National Competition.

She is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.

Own Your Words, Own Your World

How many times have you made a judgment call about a person based on a comment they made?

Did that comment really define them and was your judgment accurate? How do you know? Does it matter?

Here’s why it’s been mattering lately.

  • Co-creation – Pharma companies worked together to expedite clinical trials and get out a critically needed vaccine to the world. We have other crises that need solutions.
  • Opportunity – Because of the above, the in-demand skills of today and tomorrow are people-related. Though some are trying, this is a functional area that isn’t expected to be ethically automated with any kind of efficacy.
  • Racial Justice – Silenced and discouraged voices are piping up much louder while they face continued resistance and suppression. We’re not going back to how it was before George Floyd. There’s too much work to do!
  • Division – Politics and personal freedom have literally divided families during one of the loneliest times imaginable for people of this time.
  • We have just had 7 mass shootings in 7 days. Clearly unresolved issues are a public threat.

Some unexpected aspects of accountability in leadership came up yesterday while Lawrence Henderson and I were on Clubhouse (which we are every other Tuesday, so please follow us and join us on the app @BossLLab and @ripplemaker).

The consensus seems to be that the art of civil discourse is lost. The perception of recent conflict seems to be that it has been counter-productive. Lawrence and I are huge fans of Cy Wakeman’s No Drama approach. What’s the difference between drama and conflict?

It’s drama when:

  • You have an issue with someone and, instead of addressing the source, you involve other people.
  • You address the source, but are combative and/or accusatory.
  • You allow your conflict with someone to prohibit your performance and fall short of expectations.
  • The source of the issue is a perception, not a truth, and that perception drives decisions.

However, conflict is necessary for innovation. And, it’s necessary for conscious leadership. We may have learned that confronting someone makes things worse. The thing is, few are trained to effectively address conflicts, so what we see is conflict making things worse, now more than ever.

Social media has enabled keyboard warriors to develop habits and expectations that real-world consequences for words put out into the world don’t exist. Is this what has bled into the workplace, or was it something else?

  • Was it the fear that a confrontation can erupt into violence?
  • Was it the idea that we should leave emotions at the door?
  • Was it the constant threat of litigation?
  • Was it punitive Human Resources practices for causing workplace drama/toxicity?
  • Was it ill-advised codes of conduct and compliance training?

Too many trainings right now use subjective language, like “good values,” “professional conduct,” and “respect and dignity”. Another speaker in the Clubhouse room, Tamiko Drummond says that Human Resources needs to own properly training each and every manager on facilitating conflict From the top, leaders need to encourage going deeper into conflict rather than side-stepping it.

Ms. Drummond advises people to ask for clarification when they hear something about which they are passing judgment. “Unpack that statement for me” is a phrase she recommends. I’ve shared before how my former boss’s catchphrase was “help me understand.” At the women’s event I wrote about last week, one leader shared this list of responses to micro-aggressions.

Lawrence shared a story about one of the first private sector leaders he had who shocked him by asking him how he’d like to be approached when he was having a bad day. Wow! What an amazing question! She went on to teach and demonstrate that conflict is inevitable, and when it’s dealt with appropriately, it can make a working relationship that much stronger.

In our last Clubhouse room two weeks ago, one of the most poignant phrases shared by a speaker in the room was “Silence is dangerous.” Just because you aren’t actively hearing about a problem, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and won’t sabotage progress. Ignorance is only bliss temporarily. Furthermore, ignorance is becoming increasingly unacceptable to those who have been marginalized. Silence is the antithesis of progress, so don’t expect your comments to go without response anymore.

We talked yesterday about how anonymous 360s can be as destructive to morale and team cohesion as social media posts from keyboard warriors. Anonymous feedback is so widely used to identify performance issues, and has led to such mistrust and discouragement. It breeds a lack of accountability for what is said. When there is a void of accountability, there tends to be a perception spin machine. It wastes a lot of energy and resources.

Next, we talked about how to determine if the feedback is even accurate. Another speaker in the Clubhouse Room, Ray Abram, author of Connect Like a Boss, recommended a tool called the Johari Window. This can help leaders determine if there’s a perception issue or an opportunity for growth and development.

I shared another story about my boss, who had been informed that I was not pulling my weight, and that’s why my team was underperforming. I refuted those claims and he gave me the biggest gift. I had suspected for months that two women in the office who had become suspiciously silent toward me were gossiping about me. One I addressed directly; I thought we were friends. She coldly told me there was no problem. The other was on my team and had accused me of underperforming, which I supposed our other teammates agreed with. Thankfully, I had been working with a mentor and all activities were tracked in a database, so the resolution my bosses proposed was to get everyone in the room and put everyone’s cards on the table. The issue was diagnosed as a “perception problem.” I left the firm not long after to start Epic Careering, with my reputation and relationships intact thanks to that meeting.

When people are accountable, they want to know (and need to know) if there is an issue. There are many different ways people communicate. Some are more effective than others, but thankfully communication is a skill everyone can develop – if they’re willing.

So, for the sake of innovation and progress, what opportunities do you have in front of you to question a perception you have about someone?

Come Talk to Me

Provided to YouTube by YouTube CSV2DDEXCome Talk to Me · Peter GabrielUs (Remastered)℗ 2009 Peter Gabriel LtdReleased on: 1992-09-29Auto-generated by YouTube.

Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. As an instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she has helped two of her students win the 2018 National Competition to be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, to win the 2019 People’s Choice Award, and to land in the top 8 during the (virtual) 2020 National Competition.

She is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.