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The Voices in our Heads Part Two: The Imposter and the Critic

Scenario one:

You're new.

You just got the job after thinking to yourself, "I really have no business even applying for this job, but I'm going to try it anyway."

You're in your first meeting and you're looking around.

You're realizing just how much experience others have in their jobs and you're wondering when they are going to find out.

Find out what exactly?

That maybe, you have no idea what you're doing.

Scenario two:

You just made a mistake.

Whether you're a perfectionist or not, you can't help but be hard on yourself for it.

It's really taking over your entire day.

There's an endless loop playing in your head about the possible ways you could have avoided the mistake.

Why didn't you choose any of those paths instead?

The Voices

Last week, I shared part one of a two-part series about the voices in our heads.

This week I want to explore two of the more well-known voices: The imposter and the inner critic.

I don't have the required expertise to go deep on these voices, what I do have is experience from my own reflections.

In this post—like in the previous one—I would just like to focus on one aspect of both voices:

When these voices show up, what do they look like to you?

Before I go any further, I just want to acknowledge that if you're part of the 1-3% of the population that has aphantasia, then this post might be hard to relate to.

The Differences

Let me tell you about what my inner critic looks like.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I took tennis lessons.

Of the various coaches that I had during that time, one stood out.

All I can remember about him, is that he used to mostly wear white clothes, sit on the side of the court (the court I practiced on had these built-in bleachers), and he'd often yell at me to move faster.

There was a sense I had that I could never really impress him, even though I desperately wanted to.

He sounds mean doesn't he? Maybe he wasn't, but this is how I remember him.

He is who I picture—very clearly—when the voice of my inner critic show up.

Now let's turn to the imposter.

At first, it took me a while to figure out if I even picture anything at all when the voice of the imposter shows up in my head.

My imposter looks very different to my critic.

My imposter is me, only I am much, much younger than I am right now.

My imposter looks like a picture that I can remember seeing of myself as a four or five-year-old child. Smiling, wearing some freshly ironed clothes (thanks Ma), and of course, very innocent.

The Power of Seeing

After spending time discovering what these voices looked like for me, I was able to interact with them in a whole new way.

When I was able to give the voice a face, I was able to start interacting with the voice as a person.

I was able to start asking this person all sorts of questions to understand what they were—and still are—trying to do for me.

The reason I chose to write this post is because I'm assuming you can relate to these voices.

If you haven't explored what they look like for you yet, then I was hoping this post might inspire you to try.

Happy exploring.

purple background with two while silhouettes on it

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