Life Coach: Be Mindful of Your Client’s Inner Critic (or Else)

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As a life coach, you work with clients on a number of challenges, but if you don’t address the one issue that rules them all, you’re flirting with disaster.

Your client’s inner critic.

If you can’t navigate the turbulent waters inhabited by this saboteur, your life coaching ship is going to sink. That’s right, you’re very likely to be FIRED by your client’s inner critic!

Maybe I’m being melodramatic.

However, rest assured that, between sessions, your client’s’ inner demons are weighing in on how the life coaching is going. If their darker side wins, then coaching – and their own success – may be out the window.

This happens to life coaches and their clients over and over…and over. The client starts out optimistically. A short while later – before any permanent progress could possibly be made in the real world – the mood changes. Suddenly, your client isn’t as gung-ho. Life coaching appointments are missed, and soon life coaching is a thing of the past.

How does this happen to the life coach?

Here’s the simple scenario: The inner critic convinced your client that the life coaching wasn’t working and was a waste of time. All done.

Many self-critical clients can hold onto their optimism and deny the inner critic for short periods of time. However, the inner critic is both powerful and patient. In so many cases, it wins because it just won’t go away.

Let’s learn the most effective way to not only deal with the inner critic, but turn it into and ally.

What is the Inner Critic?

Freud called it the Superego; a psychological part of you that holds impossibly high standards and criticizes “you” for failing.

Most experts agree the inner critic forms in early childhood as a defensive response to an overwhelming world of expectations. For many, the inner critic takes on the voice of a critical parent. In other words, we internalize perceived criticisms and spend much of our life spewing negativity all over one the inside.

How Does the Inner Critic Work?

Understanding how it works is the key to a lasting, more or less peaceful relationship with the inner critic. Once you understand a couple key points of leverage, you can unravel the elements of the inner critic that keep it lodged in place.

There are two important aspects of the inner critic that – as a person and a life coach – you should be mindful of. These two elements lead directly to healing.

1) The inner critic addresses “you.” In other words, that negative inner voice specifically uses the word you when it talks to you.

• You’re going to fail.
• You’re wasting your time.
• You’re inept.

2) The inner critic speaks with an air of finality.

The inner critic is not open minded. When it criticizes you, it does so with an air of finality. It’s as if after every criticism came the words and you always will be or their equivalent.

• You’re a failure (and you always will be).
• You’re going to blow it (and you always will).
• You’re not up for it (and you never will be).

And so on.

Linguistic tools like Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) allow life coaches to deconstruct self-defeating scenarios like this one and craft elegant solutions.

Understanding the above linguistic elements of the inner critic, we can take counter measures that ultimately transform the process into something that ends differently.


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About Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, founded iNLP Center in 2011. For information on coaching with Mike, please visit his coaching website AHA System.

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