Self-Care: The People in Your Head

Note:  In my ongoing series on COVID self-care (see Taking the Stairs and Now More Than Ever), I am addressing an element of self-care that is often overlooked.  Scroll to the bottom to find out where you can learn more about all things self-care.


“Your best friend and your worst enemy are right here.”  She points to her head.  Spin instructors.  Always saying the things.

And she is right.  So right.  So much of my practice is about supporting my clients (lawyers, leaders, executives) in getting out of their own way, so to speak.  And the most common theme I see is this human tendency to get down on ourselves.  Not just when we “fail,” but also when we try.

In coaching we call it “stretching.”  Reaching for that thing outside your comfort zone.  That promotion.  That new business opportunity.  Having children.  And what does our brilliant little “voice” do?  It tells us that we will fail or be fired; that someone will find out that we were not really the one for the job, that we have been faking it all along; that we are quite possibly the worst parents ever and our children will surely need years of therapy.  That we will end up as some of my favorite women lawyers say, “homeless and bankrupt.”

Does it help?  Some people swear it is motivational.  But is it, really?  Do you do better, focus more clearly?  Do you truly excel when you are listening to the voice of doom and bankruptcy and everything falling apart?

Why does it exist?  In a word, safety.  If you don’t go outside your comfort zone, you will not fail.  Nor will you succeed.  You will be safe and secure in your little bubble of “comfort.”

But, that is not you want.  I know that.  You know that.  It’s funny this humanness, so driven are we to create new things and so mean are we to ourselves when we reach for them.

What to do?

First step is just this knowledge.  There’s a safety voice in there.  A mean voice.  A sabotaging voice.  And it is not YOU.  Not the true real highest and best you.

Listen for it.  What does it say?  Get to know it so you can see it coming.  It’s a bit like a shapeshifter.  It might sound reasonable at first.  Like you.  But if it is saying something truly bad about you, it is wrong.  And you will see it.  Things like:

  • You’re no good at this
  • You’re no good
  • You will fail
  • Why try?
  • I am bad at this kind of thing


The possibilities are endless, but it will likely say similar things each time it speaks.  Become familiar with it.  And then?

Turn away.

It will not disappear.  Likely you will always have it.  And maybe it is good news when you hear it.  Maybe it means you are stretching for something scary.  Learn not to engage.  Say, “stop it.”  Or, “thanks, but not right now.”  Whatever works.

Then find your good voice.  Your affirming voice.  Your champion voice.  The part of you that knows you can do this.  It’s in there.  It just might be quiet because you never listen to it.


It speaks the truth.


That awful little voice – just one of the many things we will address at the Badass Women Leaders’ Retreat.  Check it out!

And here is a free gift from Ali and the rest of the retreat coaches to you!


About the Author

Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching attorneys and management since early 2008. She wrote a book, published by the American Bar Association, "Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance." She coaches attorneys and managers one-on-one, and provides in-house training designed to improve productivity and bring accountability to the organization.

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