A coaching client I will call Michelle knows that she can become hard on herself. She reports a negative critical voice, which under certain situations will quickly undermine her. It picks on her achievements, undermines her confidence and spoils the relationships with her colleagues.
It becomes clearer in the coaching conversation that this internal critic has been picking on Michelle for a very long time. Michelle is very qualified and experienced but struggles to make the most of her creative potential. She recognises that when her internal critic starts up she quickly feels despondent, demotivated and loses all energy. Michelle knows that her boss and her colleagues pick up on this change and that it threatens to spoil her promotion prospects. She knows she needs to find a way of working with it rather than just being pushed about and bullied by it.
Can Michelle develop a way of containing this internal critic, so that she can think about it without being disempowered by it?
Executive coaching based on psychoanalysis and particularly object relations theories provide a framework for thinking about such difficult internal critics. It provides a way of thinking about Michelle’s internal world, and provides Michelle with a way of thinking about it too. Michelle notices that the more we are able to think together about this rather self-destructive tendency, the more energy becomes available to her to be used in other more fulfilling ways.