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Remembering Your Magic

“Play to your strengths.” 

“I haven’t got any,” said Harry, before he could stop himself. 

“Excuse me,” growled Moody, “You’ve got strengths if I say you’ve got them. Think now. What are you best at?”

– excerpt from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Deep in our inner landscape, we all have a self-critical voice. There it sits, on a long-held post in our inner world serving us to keep us safe and to ensure our lovability and belonging in our family of origin story. Yet, we must dismiss the inner critic from holding the megaphone up on the balcony in our mind’s audio-scape. Instead, we hire above that critic… and employ our inner self-advocate or inner ally in its place–the part of us that knows who we are in our wholeness.

In every 360 debrief I do with a client, I make sure to hang out in the good stuff for a while. I advise reviewees to read the strengths section twice and let it really sink in like a good moisturizer. But despite my best efforts, they will, without fail, skip all of that equally worthwhile data and go straight to the section in the report that lays out the weaknesses and areas for development. 

The good stuff stays with us like a Dutch baby slipping off of a Teflon pan, but that stuff should really sink in like a good lotion (or better yet, nourish us from the inside out). But the opposite happens: the Teflon in our mind rushes to see proof of our faults to either confirm what we believe or suspect is true about ourselves, or to further berate ourselves (in our inside voice) for clearly not being good enough. 

The old ‘not good enough’ storyline gets a lot of use in our daily thoughts and inner dialogues. Our inner critics can wreak havoc on our inner lives, and if left unattended to, can manifest outward in our lives in ways we may not really intend or want. And, if we listen to those critical voices too much or at full volume, it takes a toll on our belief in ourselves. If we believe our inner critic, we are not believing the full picture of who we are. In fact, we may become impervious to seeing ourselves clearly. 

And, like Harry Potter in the exchange with Professor Moody above, we forget we had any magic in the first place. 

When our inner critic gets loud, it’s time we employ our inner advocate–who sounds a lot like Professor Moody. In my conversation with Miriam Meima, my colleague in the coaching world, we dive into just how to do that and why it matters to quiet our inner bully and bring out our inner advocate in moments when we need to remember that we are indeed lovable and have plenty of strengths and magic to bear in this life.  

How we feel about ourselves impacts how we lead and how we experience life. If we can trust our inner goodness and what we know to be true about ourselves, in our bones, we learn self-acceptance and a deep love for ourselves that is hard to shake. When we find ourselves to be shaken, we can find our way back to ourselves–our ground–much faster. 

This conversation is for those of us who have re-run past conversations in our mind, chiding ourselves for what came out of our mouths and thinking of things we should have said, long after those conversations occurred. (Metaphorically, it’s for those of us who have been living in a muggle world and forced to live under the stairs, misunderstood and feeling out of place.) And, it’s for those of us who fail to see and believe our unique strengths in the face of seemingly insurmountable feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. 

Reflection Questions: 

  • What are your strengths (both skills and qualities)? What do people love about you? What is it that you bring to a room, a relationship, a conversation, a project that is uniquely you and worth celebrating? As a data-gathering exercise, who could you ask to reflect your strengths back to you?
  • Recall a time when you felt clear about your strengths or were in a state of flow. What were you doing? What was happening? What in your body tells you this is a strength?
  • Recall a time when your inner critic was loud. What was the situation? What was your inner critic saying? How did it sound? What did it sound like? How did you react to that voice? What did it feel like in your body when your critic held the megaphone? How did you feel about yourself? How did you turn the volume down on the critic’s voice? What resources did you pull in or reach for? How did you recover?
  • What do you do to remind yourself of your strengths? How does that help you find your ground? What or who does your self-advocate sound like? Who can you turn to when you need a pep talk to remember your goodness and lovability? What practice can you establish for yourself so that calling on your inner self-advocate becomes easier and easier with each rep? How does knowing your strengths help you ask for support and what you need?



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