Do you have a loud inner critic?
You know the one that starts when you wake up and tells you that you’re not good enough, thin enough, productive enough, patient enough, strong enough, smart enough or whatever?
I used to believe that these daily repetitive negative thoughts were helping me.
I thought I could berate myself into ‘being better’ or shame myself enough that I would stop drinking, start running or lose weight.
I thought if I was just hard enough on myself – I’d get my shit together.
The truth is it didn’t work.
I didn’t work for me and it probably isn’t working for you. It’s just making you miserable.
Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that embracing the ways in which we ‘should’ be better will help us achieve more in life.
But that’s not true.
In fact, our inner critic can lead us to drink or numb out to turn it off and quiet your mind. And reaching for substances will only lead us to anxiety and more self-criticism.
It’s the opposite, limiting self-criticism and offsetting its negative effects, that will build resilience, reduce stress and lower anxiety.
And there’s an easy way to quiet your inner critic.
In this podcast episode we’ll dive into how and why to release the voice that tells you that you’re not enough and less than others.
My guest today is Vanessa Klugman, She’s an MD and a Certified Professional Coach and a Certified Professional Recovery Coach and she’ll share how healing your inner critic starts with self compassion.
- Why working to quiet your inner critic is important
- How to limit self-criticism and offset its negative effects
- Myths about self-compassion (what it is and what it is not)
- How self-compassion builds resilience and decreases anxiety
- How to take a self-compassion break (the 3 part practice)
- How to heal yourself with mindfulness, kindness and the knowledge that you’re not alone.
About Vanessa Klugman, MD, ACC.
Vanessa is a physician, and mother of three.
She balanced the demands of a career and family for many years until the stress became overwhelming.
Vanessa turned to poor coping mechanisms to escape the demands that she placed on herself.
Vanessa had a harsh inner critic who told her messages that she was not good enough.
She believed that her worth was equated with how much she achieved, how well she was liked, and how much she gave to others.
She wasn’t living an authentic life. In recovery, she learned effective ways to face negative emotions: set boundaries that protected her sobriety; faced limiting beliefs and healed old wounds.
Vanessa’s passion is to guide others battling to find a healthy balance in their lives, to disconnect from their inner critic and reconnect with their inner wisdom.
Links and Resources Mentioned
Connect with Casey McGuire Davidson
Listen to more podcast episodes to drink less + live more.
Dr. Kristin Neff: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power Of Being Kind To Yourself
Connect with Casey
Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!
Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
Quieting Your Inner Critic With Vanessa Klugman
quieting your inner critic, SHE RECOVERS® , prescription, addiction, painkillers, anxiety, recovery, good enough, worth, achievement, authentic life, productive, passionate, worthy, journey, befriending, sobriety, control, internalized, presence, looked up to, behaving, daughter, kindness, rejected, protect yourself, conversation, pay attention, natural reaction, analyzing, acceptable, fear, voice, existing, powerful, pause, stop beating myself up, believe, micromanage, being better, therapist, messages, telling myself, submission, compliance, drinking, numbing, abusing, coping, strategy, care, comfort, tool, embrace, vision board, myths, backbone, guts, smile, strong, show up, reminder, beautiful, self compassion, acknowledging, validating, building someone up, safe space, resilience, PTSD, brave, strong, breaking free, resources, assistance, overcome, honest, peace, alignment, shifting, common humanity, process, empathy, freeing, support, sharing
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Vanessa Klugman
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Welcome to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. I’m really excited to bring you today’s guest in our conversation, because we’re going to talk about quieting your inner critic, and I know that so many women including myself, who either struggle with drinking or in sobriety, struggle with a really loud inner critic voice.
My guest today is Vanessa Klugman. She is a mother of 3, a Physician who retired when she came into recovery five years ago, and a life in Recovery Coach, as well as, SHE RECOVERS® certified Coach. Vanessa is in recovery from an addiction to prescription painkillers and anxiety meds. She’s really in recovery from anxiety that stemmed from an unlivable life. Vanessa says she has a harsh inner critic who told her messages that she was not good enough. She believed that her worth was equated with how much she achieved, how well she was liked, and how much she gave to others. She wasn’t living an authentic life. And this led to an inner sense of disease.
And when I spoke with Vanessa and when I read this description, I completely resonated with it. I also have been working on quieting an inner critic that tells me that I need to be productive and liked am good in order to be worthy. In recovery, Vanessa became passionate about sharing what she had learned from her journey of quieting her inner critic and befriending her anxiety. She started her business resilience Recovery coaching. Two years ago, self compassion was one of Vanessa’s most powerful tools that she’s learned along the way. And that has helped her heal from shame and cope with those inner critical voices. And I am so excited to have Vanessa come on the show today and talk about your inner critic, how to quiet it, how to embrace your anxiety, and a three step process to help heal yourself. Vanessa, thank you so much for being here.
Well, to start, why don’t you tell us about the inner critic, what it is and how it shows up for most women in their lives? And is it that it just is so constant we don’t even notice it? Or do we think it’s us? We just, or we think it’s true, so it’s faded into the background? Where it’s just, it’s part of how you get up, shower, get dressed, get in your car, drive to work, kiss your kids goodbye?
We just believe it. We just believe it to be true. And so we just don’t even notice we’re just walking around life saying, I am anxious. I am not smart enough. I am not thin enough. I am not good enough as a mother. I am not pretty enough. Whatever it is.
Yeah, well one of the funniest ones I have because I’ve done some of this work, and it is really shocking is, stuff that you absolutely cannot control, but you’ve somehow internalized as not good enough or not good as. So one of the most hysterical ones that I have is that I’m not tall enough. I’m too short. So I’m 5’3. And I think that since high school, for some reason stuck in my head, I desperately wanted to be5’7 or 5’8, like somehow, if I was stretched out, I would be thinner, I would have more presence at work, I would be literally more looked up to people who would want to like me more. And that is so ridiculous. Because, you know, a lot of people like me, including my husband, cuz they, I mean, not like me because of this. But they’re like, You’re so cute. Because I’m kind of diminutive, in stature, at least and otherwise like nobody else is like, Yeah, I don’t take her seriously at work because she’s 4 inches shorter than I really think she should be.
Absolutely, and you can just expand that to everything and compounded. I can’t wear high heels because I sprained my ankle and field hockey and lacrosse like seven times. So I was like, not only am I too short, but apparently, I’m not disciplined enough to wear high heels so that I don’t look so short like just, I mean, it’s the stupidest example but the things we carry around every day.
And is it true that most of us internalize this when we were pretty young like 6 to 10? When we were first realizing that other people wanted us to behave in a certain way that probably was not the way we were behaving? I always think I have a 6 year old daughter that this somehow starts in school. She went to preschool K, but like, how you walk, how you talk, how you ask to go to the bathroom, you know some of that assimilation is really good. It’s about kindness. But a lot of it is saying both the girls and boys that however you are naturally acting is not right.
Or our peers? What do you get made fun of? What do you watch other people getting made fun of or being ostracized about?
Yeah. Because you are rejecting yourself 50 times a day, as opposed to trying to protect yourself from being rejected by others. And what I think is, is not it’s in no way funny, but it’s interesting. We don’t realize that everybody is walking around with these voices in their head constantly. Like it’s amazing. We can even have conversations with others and pay attention to what’s being said because when you write them down, you realize how often it is going through and it’s not just beating yourself up although that’s a part of it. It literally is stopping your natural reaction to almost everything you would possibly do as a sort of here you know, I think something and I do it. No, you’re thinking something, analyzing it, you know, stopping yourself redoing it in a way that’s more acceptable. I mean, am I going overboard as to the degree to which this permeates our lives?
Wait, so, how do you do that? That sounds way easier than I can even think about even, you know, for myself. Like befriending your fear, befriending the voice, befriending existing the way you think you know and truly believe deeply? That you’re not good enough, like, I’m okay existing in a way where I don’t think I’m okay. I mean, I know I get the theory but like how do you do that?
Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt, but something you said was so powerful. And I just wanted to pause. And have you say something more about it. The question you asked is, what am I afraid is going to happen if I stop beating myself up?
Yeah, I mean, I almost want to, like, write that down. Because when you say that, if I were to stop beating myself up, I mean, that’s what you’re doing. But there is a real fear like, you truly believe that by beating yourself up. You are making yourself better and in reality, you’re living in a constant state of bullying.
Hmm yeah, it’s the idea of you’re trying to micromanage and control and you know, yeah just bully yourself into being better but that doesn’t.. didn’t work. Or if it does work, it only works for a while. And I also see this in myself and in the women I coach. When they’re trying to quit drinking, I always say, you can’t hate yourself well, and yet that’s what we all try to do. We try to hate ourselves well, and talk enough shit to ourselves and tell ourselves we’re horrible. And take pictures of ourselves when we’re hungover and ugly, so that we will be shamed into doing better and it’s no way to live. Yeah?
Yeah. I remember when I was in early sobriety, and afterwards, I was going to a therapist and I have a daughter who’s now 6. I quit when she was 2, somewhere in between those ages. She looks exactly like I did when I was young. And my therapist just told me, when I think back on my past or when I think back on the messages I’m telling myself, sort of pushing down the pain and anxiety, which I know is something you’re going to talk about. She said, Imagine that you are saying those words to your 4 year old daughter, imagine you were saying, Get your shit together. What’s wrong with you? Just toughen up. You know, all those things like, to this little girl, which is that self compassion for the little girl you have inside of you. Just beating someone down into submission and compliance. Yeah?
Yeah because you don’t even realize that like numbing, whether it’s through drinking or I know you were abusing some sort of prescription painkillers, I believe is just a maladaptive coping strategy and we adopted it, because it worked until it didn’t. And it was out of a place of trying to care and comfort ourselves. And the truth is we just picked up the wrong tool, and we need to pick up the right ones. So tell us, you started by telling us that we just needed to befriend and embrace the voice telling us that what we are is unacceptable. So tell me more about how to do that.
Please that I’d love to hear that I would go to hell I would fall apart like Well, and I think in… this is 90. It’s completely going to date myself, but I’m, I’m thinking back to an SNL skit back in the day. Saturday Night Live was like, I forget whether it was Stuart Smalley but the guy turned to a mirror and he was pretty cheesy. And he was like, you’re good enough. You’re smart enough and Gosh darn it. People like you.
So I feel like people think self compassion is sort of putting that on a vision board, which by the way, I’m the biggest vision board person. I don’t think this is a bad idea, saying those things to yourself but also that it’s only losers who do that, right? People who are comical, people who you would laugh out at SNL. So tell me about that. You said it’s selfish.
The myths are that it’s selfish, that it’s weak, that you would fall apart, but what about that sort of character? Sure. I guess of the person who does that.
Ah it’s having a backbone. It’s the opposite of, you know, it’s not when you’re when your gut says no you smile and say yes. It’s actually saying, I’m going to take care of myself, rather than acquiescing to all these people who I may not even like and respect, but just out of fear, so it’s strong, not weak. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah, I really like that because, you know, you almost feel that if you were to self compassionate or certainly if anyone else sees it, you will be judged or people will make fun of you which again, is that inner critic voice coming back saying, if you put up a sign, a reminder that you’re beautiful, you’re good enough. You’re smart enough, people love you for who you are and your authentic self. You’re like God, if anyone sees this I’m going to be laughed out of town.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And how would that show up when for how would someone use self compassion if they were running on empty and yet you know, still using your inner critic to should I should be doing more self care. So tell me how that self compassion would show up in that moment.
Yeah, yeah because I mean I was smiling and nodding my head when you gave that example because I have done that. Meaning, the “What is wrong with me? I’m the worst mother ever. Oh my god, what are they going to think of me? My daycare for my daughter used to be literally five minutes from my office.” And so, that was incredibly dangerous in my mind because I would work, you know, it closed at 6:15. And I would work straight through, you know, 5:50 have my alarm, but then, trying to be shut down. Or Oh God, I didn’t send this email or like someone stops me on the way out. And just the adrenaline and the self hatred and the guilt and the overcompensation of smiling and apologizing, and God, that’s exhausting.
If you’re listening to this episode and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study, sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step-by-step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one-on-one coaching. And The Sobriety Starter Kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it, when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time. This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step-by-step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life. You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better, you’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course.
Yeah, yeah. And saying, acknowledging and validating and building someone up and loving themselves well, right. You work really hard and you’ve got a lot of responsibilities. And, of course, you took that moment to talk to your colleague that way. Upset and your daughter’s in a safe space with people who love you. And this is not an everyday occurrence and you’re a great mom and a great wife and a great employee. It’s just hard and by the way, if your best friend did that, and called you in a panic, you would not be like yeah, you are a freaking mess. Pull your shit together.
Yeah, well I liked what you said about resilience both with, you know, the recovery from, you know, a warzone and reduction of post traumatic stress syndrome, as well as women going through a divorce. I mean, hugely traumatic experiences and I can imagine women recovering from addiction and navigating sobriety right? You will be much more resilient. If you extend yourself compassion for, for where you were. I mean, I always you know, when I’m coaching women and I truly believe this about myself, you’re not. You’re not weak, you’re not fundamentally wrong for having become addicted to an addictive substance. Rather, you are brave and strong. And 1 of you know 95% of people who deal with this never attempt, much less, you know, to recover from this, they sort of stay in that really painful place. You are, you’re brave, you are strong, this is hard. You should be proud of yourself every single step of the way, even for attempting to gather resources and think about this and stop these coping behaviors. You know, there is nothing wrong with you and that is self compassion. And you know, right now I feel and I know you do, extremely proud of yourself for not only recognizing you were in that difficult space gathering resources and assistance to overcome it, breaking free and being honest about what you’ve been through and who you are today. I mean, that is, you know, you’re helping other people. And none of that is what is wrong with me. Why did I do this? Why can everyone else drink and not have these issues? Why am I so weak? Why did I do this to my children? All of that crap?
And did you do that for yourself? Because I know you know, we haven’t talked about it but you went through a period of addiction and came out of it. So how did you use that self compassion to help yourself in that situation?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And also just when you’re feeling any emotion, realizing that there’s something beneath that. That is valid and acknowledging that I know that I was never and still am not very comfortable with anger at all. I mean, my inner critic voice says you are not allowed to be angry even when it’s valid. Like, there must be something wrong with you. You need to make this go away as quickly as possible. You need to explain it away, rationalize it and make yourself be okay with whatever is causing the anger. As opposed to, you know, saying, okay what am I feeling? I’m angry. Why am I feeling angry? Because of this you know, you accept responsibility and take your part of it but you also recognize when it is a valid feeling and figure out how that you know, you don’t need to make it go away. It is a signal that something is not right and that something needs to change.
Yeah, Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. And the worry is that if you say something, you know, you need to suppress it because if you don’t, you’ll be seen as a bit – you’ll be seen as shrill. You’ll be seen as not being able to take a joke. You’ll be seen as uptight, or people won’t want to be around you and you’ll be so uncomfortable with conflict, then you’ll have to apologize for righteous anger. You know what I mean? Just to make it okay, in terms of sort of the emotional environment around you, I think And all of this is subconscious and yet it is. It is a constant chatter in your head. Yeah?
Yeah. Well, I mean, I.. I remember someone said this to me and I think it’s a thing about like, don’t should on yourself, you know? So, question for you, since you brought up that, you know all those messages. What were you afraid would happen if you didn’t beat yourself up constantly, yeah? Yeah.
So what did happen when you stopped beating yourself up constantly? Well, so tell me about those. Give me a few examples because I think it’s helpful.
And so once you were able to do that, you were able to live more at peace and in alignment and hopefully more resilient as well as you were when you were discussing it so when things come up, you don’t spiral in the same way yeah?
Yeah, and one of the things, you know, that I found since quitting drinking and and not beating myself up constantly about that is, you know, it’s it’s not only having self compassion and recognizing that the emotions you’re feeling are for a reason, and that they may or may not be serving you. And realizing that you know, one of the things I love about recovery, I think we’re doing it on this podcast, I think other podcasts and the secret Facebook groups are doing, is realizing your third step of that process, which is the common humanity. That there are so many women out there and men who hear the exact same voices that you do that feel the same way you do that are giving voice to everything you thought was fundamentally wrong with you, that you tell yourself every day. And the more that we hear that you, Vanessa, that me, Casey that all the women that we’re talking to and are, you know, going through this process of quitting drinking? You know, we all hear the same thing, like you said in your workshop that we all think the same thing constantly. That that common humanity after sort of the acknowledgment, befriending it with kindness. I mean, that is life shifting. You sort of go through the world with more empathy for yourself and kindness and for other people knowing that you’re not alone.
Yes. Yeah. And it’s so freeing. It’s so free. You know, I didn’t realize before I quit drinking because you, you almost have to. You’ve taken away all your coping mechanisms. You have to share what’s going on with you. You have to talk about it, you have to get support. And I didn’t realize until I started to do that when I was going through the process of quitting drinking. How little I shared those struggles with even my best friends from high school, from college. From being a mom, we, you know, complained about our husbands occasionally. We complained about our work, we talked about our kids and difficult things with that, but we never talked about the really deep fears and hurts and struggles that we had ever had, you know? It was all very you know, you related you, you contacted people, you talked about it while you were drinking, but it never sort of got to the true tender parts. And once you talk about them, God It feels good.
Oh, it’s terrifying.
It does and it gets so much easier. Right? And then you put stuff out there and and I’m even thinking about when I first posted in a secret Facebook group of people couldn’t drink it. I mean, I was shaking, I was terrified. This was something that I had hidden from myself and my husband and my friends because I was so terrified of people being like, Oh damn, you need to not drink anymore. You know, like, that was my worst nightmare. And having 20, 30 women come back and say, “Me too”, and You sound just like me and yes I was there and, you know, no, you’re not a terrible mother and you’re not a terrible human being and you’re not a terrible, you know, corporate executive you. Yeah, you’re a great person who’s struggling with something that we all struggle with. God that was amazing. I mean, I was crying as I read those messages.
Yeah, absolutely. So I know you talked about the three part self compassion break, but you have so many other tools that you can use. I love that. You mentioned tapping because I just started doing tapping. I actually had someone on my podcast who, who talked about it and since then, I’ve had three sessions with her and it’s lovely. She made a little video for me so I can do tapping on my own, but I’d never discovered that and it is amazing. So you do that. What else do you use?
So tell me how people if they’re interested in learning more about you, about the work you can do. I know we’ve talked about a number of free resources. Kristin Neff, is that right? I’ll put it in the show notes, terror Brock and rain and the three part practice but if they’re interested in working with you or finding out more about what you do, how can they get in touch with you?
And you said that was a one on one coaching program?
Yes, 6 weeks.
Great. That sounds very helpful. Yeah, that’s wonderful.
That’s beautiful. I think that’s a perfect place to end this. Thank you so much for taking the time to come on and for sharing everything you have in terms of the tools of how to quiet your inner critic and how to live a more peaceful life and befriend and find different ways of coping with anxiety. I know it’s something that so many of us struggle with. And you know, the more that we can find ways to deal with it. I love that you said peace. I feel like we can live with just more peace, which is lovely.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.