#107 Strategies for Silencing Your Teen’s Inner Critic with Natalie Borrell Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:55

Does your team tell you directly or indirectly through their actions that they sometimes or maybe even often leave, they aren’t good enough? Do you know this inner critic is a normal part of growing up. But here’s the kicker. If it’s not addressed properly, it grows louder and louder and can prevent our teens from taking healthy risks. The inner critic is a blend of innate human tendencies, and the ever present social comparison. Let’s face it, that comparison game is stronger than ever, in today’s world of constant digital connection. So how do you help your team? It all starts with building resilience, that incredible ability to bounce back from setbacks. Our guests Natalie Burrell is a school psychologist and an academic life coach for teenagers. She and her team of coaches help tweens and teens build their competence. She’s sharing practical strategies like flipping the script on those I’m not good at x thoughts, and trying various coping techniques. This episode is packed with insights and practical tips. So whether you’re a parent, a mentor, or even a teen yourself, tune in as we tackle the inner critic head on and pave the way for a more confident and resilient generation. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. Natalie, welcome to the show.


Natalie Borrell  02:35

Thank you, Lisa. I’m so excited to be here. Oh, I’m


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:38

excited to have you because I love your background like school psychologist, teen life coach, you’re leaning into all the things. And today as we start to talk about how we can support our teens and overcoming that inner critic. Here’s what I love about it as a coach because I also people who regularly listen know that I keep a roster of about 10 executive coaching clients who those are small business owners, helping them navigate work in life. And they will often start following me on social for flourish coaching the work we do with teens helping them get clear on the right College majoring in future career or just the future career of colleges and then the deck of cards for them, which is totally fine. And that from both groups, I regularly get this question. Like Lisa, we see you speaking all the time. We see you on Instagram reels we see you just showing up with confidence. And gosh, you’ve never had impostor syndrome, which is hilarious. I’m like, Yeah, every single day. And while I, I see it in adults, even my adult coaching clients, I see them having an easier time overcoming it. Were like the teenagers is a bit more persistent. And when I found out that you do work with teens on overcoming that what you call the inner critic. I’m like, Okay, we need to talk about this because I’m effective in helping people with it. And I think there’s some tools that I want to add to my toolbox, particularly with the teens because I see the adults being able to overcome it more easily, although it’s still teens that are listening to this know that we struggle as adults to write. So talk about that inner critic like Is it is it a barrier to them moving forward? Is it the biggest barrier? Is it easily overcome? Like, let’s just dive into that inner inner critic.


Natalie Borrell  04:46

Okay, let’s do it. So first, I think the first thing I want to say is that I want to normalize the experience of having that inner critic or that little voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. Maybe you’re not athletic enough, you’re just less than you know the person next to you. And I feel like that is very normal for everybody, adults, teenagers and everybody in between. So I wanted to normalize it. But then what I also want to say is that it is something we have to address. Because if you don’t address that inner critic, what happens then, is those thoughts that you have about yourself, the more you say them, the more frequently you say them, those start to become your beliefs about yourself. And then your beliefs about yourself, turn into the actions you take. And that’s where it gets really tricky. And we have to watch out because that inner critic can be really powerful. And it can stop you from doing things that would actually help you. So maybe, for example, it could stop you from taking a healthy risk, like trying out for a sports team, or applying to the college. That’s just what you think is outside of your reach. But you stop yourself because that inner critic gets so loud and tells you you can’t do it.


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:05

Totally agree with that in what makes me start to think of is in your experience, because you know, I’m supporting them on go out and get that job shadow or do an informational interview, or do the extracurricular that aligns with the future career. And if you’re going to college, the College major. I get curious about like, you do more of like really niche down on this. And so what I wonder is, are they comparing themselves to other people? Would like Where’s it coming from? Do you feel like it’s comparison? Do you feel like it’s there regardless, you know, like, if we, if we got our kids to stay off social media, hahaha. In a dreamy world, what were like comparison is there, would they still have this problem?


Natalie Borrell  07:02

I believe it’s both. I believe that it is innate within within us and just as human beings, but it’s also comparison. And the reason why I say that is because even without social media, like I think back to when I was in high school, at the end of the day, I got to turn turn the rest of the world off, or tune out from it, because I would just go home. And I didn’t know what everybody else in the world was doing on social media. And I still had an inner critic, I’d had a mom at home that built me up, I had every asset possible, but I still had an inner critic. So that’s why I say it’s definitely something innate with us as human beings to think that we’re less than, but also the comparison is very real. So I will work with teenagers who look amazing on paper, they have the grades, they have the activities, they have all of the things, they check off all of the boxes, but they still compare themselves to the person next to them in their honors AP class, and they get mad because they got a 92 on a test and their neighbor got 98. And that comparison of I’m just not quite as good as the person next to me happens quite often.


Lisa Marker Robbins  08:06

Oh my gosh, I see this all the time. When we’re looking at careers. This is such an interesting one to me. I see students when it comes to math, have huge impostor syndrome, or overconfidence. So it’s interesting to me, it’s like, and I think this just comes from school, right? It wouldn’t. It’s not necessarily from social media, nobody’s talking about math on social media, right. But when they start to talk about do I have the can do for that future career. If there’s just a little bit of math involved in a career, I’ll see kids like shut down, lack confidence. And go, You know what, I won’t be able to do that. I think one of our students who’s currently in the course, Brady, he actually by going through the course and thinking about math in a different way, decided he was going to tackle honors, and be more confident. So I will see kids go like, don’t rule something out and go, Oh, I can’t even think about that, because I’m not good enough. And then it’s also interesting to me on the flip side of that, math is a number one college major that teens when they get to college switch out of out of all the college majors, there are more math majors than any other major that switched to a different major, because they got in over their head. So it’s like it’s this interesting, like the river. I think a few of them are really confident, but most of them overestimate the, I don’t know, the math IQ that’s required to do that. And that would be there no matter what, right? Oh, absolutely.


Natalie Borrell  09:47

And I think the most common phrase I hear my kids say about math is I’m just dumb at that. Like I might be smart in these other things, but I’m dumb at that. You know, whether it’s math or something else, I guess there’s always one thing and that they have just determined that they are not good at, or at least not as good as somebody next to them. And the problem with that, then is, again, that’s happening, that inner critic popping up raising its voice, saying I’m not good at that is that in the teenage brain, they’re going to start to look for every little example of how that’s true, to reinforce that belief about themselves that they’re not good. So when they get the 92, and the person next to them gets the 98, or when they actually studied, and they didn’t do as well on a quiz as they thought, there you go. That’s further example. I’m just done with that. So they continue to look for those examples. And that just reinforces the belief well


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:40

enough, don’t even you know, it’s like, Oh, my word, you gotta 92 That is not proof of the lie. That story you’re telling yourself inside your head. So when a student says one of the like, one of the students that your life coaching says to you, Well, I’m just not good at that, and you are looking at them, and you’ve got maturity on your side, you’ve got tools and skills to help them overcome. How do we respond as parents or as professionals, to the kid that goes, Oh, I’m not good at that. I’m not a good writer, or I’m not good at math. What is the right response? Because I, I’m gonna guess that it’s not just saying, Yeah, you are?


Natalie Borrell  11:23

Yeah, because you can tell them Yeah, you are as mom or just a well intentioned parent or teacher. And that’s not quite enough, because we really need to dig in to some of the psychology behind those thoughts. So when a student says something like, I’m just dumb at math, you know, I kind of almost like, tilt my head at them and look at them and be like, really? You know, tell me why you think that and I really want to hear why it is that they think that they’re not good at something. And then what we do from there is we look for little tiny examples of how the opposite of that is true. So let’s say for example, I’m not good at math. Okay? Well, the opposite of that is I’m actually good at math. And we’re going to look for any example. However tiny doesn’t matter of how you actually are good at math. Well, maybe back in sixth grade, I was good at math, or that one test a couple of weeks ago, I got a decent grade on it. Or I did go to the study session that my teacher offered before school. So that’s one way is we look for these tiny little examples of how the opposite is true, because we have to break down disbelief they have about themselves. But another way to go at it is to just say, to the teenager you’re working with, if you were a good math student, what would that look like? Or in other words, what do good math students do? Well, they participate in class, they raise their hand, they ask questions, they come to study sessions, they actually study for tests. Are you doing all of the things that you just said, a good math student would do? And if not, okay, awesome. We have some room for growth there, there are some things that you are in control of that you could be doing better, that would help you be better at that. Do


Lisa Marker Robbins  13:05

you find when you get into that part of the conversation, that with when you kind of say, Okay, let’s interrogate that lie that you’re telling yourself, right? And so what do men good math students look like? Or what does a good writer look at? Like? Or what does a confident person look like? And they they list those out for you? Do you find that frequently, they’re not doing most of those, or when you start interrogating the story that they’re the false story that they’re telling themselves? Do you find that actually, the light bulb starts to go off? And they’re like, oh, wait, I actually am doing like, what’s more common? Is that, like, they’re not doing any of the things, we’re gonna get a strategy to start doing them? Or is it like, we’ve defined it? And now we go, oh, wait a second. I sort of am.


Natalie Borrell  13:57

Yeah, I find that most often they are doing some things, but they think they’re doing everything. And they’re not quite doing everything. But then also, let’s say they are doing everything, because I do typically work with students that are, they’re conscientious. They’re good students, they’re looking for all of the ways to become better students, there’s still something about their mindset about the tasks that even though they’re doing the things to get themselves the support, or the help or to do better, they still have that mindset block against it. So they’re walking in to doing those things already thinking that it’s not going to work. And so those strategies aren’t as effective as they would be if they had more of that growth mindset, or that grit or that resilience.


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:38

So we’ve got to tackle the mindset before we can fully overcome that inner critic, that kind of the


Natalie Borrell  14:49

data. Yeah, I believe so. Because the foundation of all of this is your mindset, like the foundation of all the work I do is shifting your perspective or shifting your mindset. about a situation. And a big part of that is resiliency. Which means if you have an obstacle, like, I don’t feel like I’m good at math, what are some ways that we can overcome that obstacle, instead of just making the story about it, that’s not really true. Or instead of letting it get us stuck, or making it mean something about ourselves that we know deep down is not actually true. So the ability to overcome some type of setback or some type of obstacle is a skill that I see so many teenagers lack. And that piece is an important part of this whole process as well. So not only do we need to change the thoughts we have about ourselves and our beliefs, but we also have to be working on that building that muscle of resiliency, because I think you and I both could agree, Lisa, that it is the people who overcome setbacks, who are successful in this world, you know, if you need to try a different strategy, or you need to shift your perspective, you need to have a more positive belief about yourself, or a more positive mindset. And you keep going, and you get up again and again, until you figure out what works. That’s what separates people who are successful, and the people who stay stuck. So that is a skill set that absolutely has to be worked on alongside with the inner critic. You know,


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:17

it’s true that, and I tell this, I just actually talked about this in our launch live q&a with our students last month in the course, where I was asking them to do something, and it was going to take a little bit of boldness, a little bit of courage. And I reminded them that, you know, courage to an outsider, us just getting courageous to do the hard thing, actually, to the outsider looking at it looks like we’re confident, huh?


Natalie Borrell  16:50

Yeah, I can totally see that. Because it’s making me picture a duck on top of the water, like, you know how a duck going across the water is just smooth sailing, but underneath, they’re paddling so quickly. Yes, that’s what confident people are doing. I mean, if it if it’s something that doesn’t come naturally, or we have some impostor syndrome about but we know that we still need to put our best foot forward, we’re going to be dots across the water, looking smooth, but paddling really hard underneath just to make sure that we’re actually getting where we’re going.


Lisa Marker Robbins  17:19

And then over time, and that’s the transformation, right? It’s like, maybe it’s like a duck that’s in a current like they they get there, they get their groove. And then there, you don’t have to paddle quite so hard. You don’t have to, you can do it with confidence. The next time, right?


Natalie Borrell  17:38

Absolutely. I almost picture I guess I’m using a lot of visuals, but I’m picturing a snowball at the top of the hill, because it’s winter when we’re speaking now. Yeah, and that snowball just needs a push, right. And once you push the snowball down the hill, you give it that mindset, you give it the tools, that snowball starts gaining momentum, it picks up speed, it becomes more powerful. And it just rolls and that’s what I see for these kids, they need that boost that pushed on the hill, and then they can do it on their own. They’re good.


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:05

You know, I didn’t even take physics in high school. But one of the analogies that we use a reminder to students is just keep going right? An object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest, unless something else forces it to move is going to stay at rest. So it’s just like, just if you can get that first step, that momentum going, then you’re gonna keep going and it’s gonna get easier and easier. Completely,


Natalie Borrell  18:39

you use a very scientific physics example. And I use Finding Nemo, you know, when he says, Just keep swimming. But it’s that same thing, just keep going like you will get there. Just keep doing it.


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:51

So most of our listeners are parents, or they are other people like you and me who work with teens and supporting them. Like what would be some practical strategies that you could say like, okay, these are quick wins to put in your toolbox if the kid doesn’t have a Natalie to life coach them, where they can start to overcome a little bit. Yeah,


Natalie Borrell  19:20

I would say the first one is to really start to recognize when you hear your inner critic the most often, and when it is the loudest meaning is it before math class? Or is it in the mornings when you’re getting dressed and you look in the mirror you don’t like the way you feel whatever it is, start to notice when it happens most often. And then start to notice what your inner critic is actually saying to you. So being aware of what it says and when it comes up would probably be the first step because that’s the whole idea of recognizing it, acknowledging that it’s there. Because when you know those things, then you can say, okay, it always happens during math class. I know it’s going to tell me I’m done with this and Susie next to me is going to do better on this exam, even though I studied five hours more than her. And now, because you’re aware of that you can use this strategy. So before math us, we would love for you to do some things like positive affirmations like your breathing exercise, maybe it’s your fidgets, maybe it’s talking to a friend. Maybe it’s talking to a teacher or some other trusted adult, maybe it’s a playlist of your favorite songs that you listen to before you go into math class that pump you up, whatever it is, taking some type of step before the situation that you know your inner critic is going to be loudest is a really good one.


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:36

How do you say I have a quick question? How do they find which one’s most effective for them? Like I use the think up app, which actually has you record affirmations in your own voice? And then listen to him. And I know there’s some data, some psychology behind hearing yourself, affirm. You know what you want to be true? I am good at math. I think some people don’t even understand what an affirmation is. You know, it’s more than I, oh, I can do this. Right. It’s I am good at math. I will do great on this next test is like calling into that future self. Speaking as if it’s true now. But what would you say? Like you just gave some really great resources for what we can do walking into a hard situation, it might even for some students be picking up the phone to make their own doctor’s appointments, I always tell parents that right next to him, you know, do it for them, do it with them, let them do it on their own? How do you figure out if affirmations is a song? Is it talking to somebody? What would you suggest,


Natalie Borrell  21:44

trial and error. So there are if even if you just go on Pinterest, and you search coping skills, or stress relief, you will find so many ideas of different strategies to use. And there’s all kinds of different categories of them too. So like emotional coping strategies or like fine using tangible objects, there’s all kinds of different categories. What I have teenagers do typically is I have a list of about 100 of them, I have them just actually read through it and highlight the ones they think they would like to try. And then it’s just trial and error from there. So I think awareness first being aware of all the different options out there and having a menu of them to choose from picking the ones that sound good, trying them on for size and seeing if that works. If it weren’t a really they


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:28

try him for a while, like, you know, because even adults that I coach, like, oh, I tried that once and it didn’t work. And I’m like, really like we need to stick with it for a little bit longer. Is there a certain amount of time that you suggest they try a particular strategy?


Natalie Borrell  22:45

Yes, I say three. And I kind of think of like when I’m getting my little guys to try broccoli, like you don’t like it yet. Maybe try it again. Maybe try it with a little mashed potatoes on it. So yes, to your point, try it a couple of times. Because the first time you try it, it might not be perfect. But the second time, you might actually like it a little bit more. And by the third time, you’re going to know, does this work for me or not? And if it doesn’t, that’s okay. You have more on your list to try? Well,


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:12

it’s okay to move on. Right? You learned something? I mean, that’s a positive. It’s not. It’s not a failure, like, oh, I tried the, you know, the rocky soundtrack, music heading into whatever, I’m aging myself here. But, you know, it’s like, okay, you know, you tried a little bit. And if it failed, it’s not a failure. It’s a lesson. And then you move on to the next thing.


Natalie Borrell  23:36

Exactly, you’re really just narrowing the list down. So anytime something doesn’t work, that’s great. Because now you know, it doesn’t and you can move on to the next one.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:44

So do you Who do you find? Like, I just I’m thinking back to when my kids were teenagers, and they’re all adults now. But I just think like, my kids wouldn’t want to hear it from me, you know? Yeah. It’s tough. I mean, we do in our newsletter, do a conversation cue to us with a teen every week. And I actually, as you were talking, I thought of one which would be, you know, what is your inner critic telling you? You know, and I might use that when we do in our newsletter, this podcast episode. talk to parents about, okay, your teen might not want to hear it from you.


Natalie Borrell  24:27

Yeah, and I hate to say that, I mean, even at the risk of offending people, but sometimes your teenager just needs a new voice. And I often will say to parents, my coaches, and I might say the same exact things that you say, right. So, but coming from you, you sound like Charlie Brown’s principal, you know that. Wow. Yeah. But coming from me, it’s the most brilliant thing they’ve ever heard. And that’s just because it’s a different voice and that is just the nature of being a teenager and it’s something that I know all the not all the moms listening are nodding their heads right now like they know Oh, that sometimes it just has to come from a different voice. Absolutely.


Lisa Marker Robbins  25:03

So you’re one of those voices. For our audience case are interested in learning more. Tell us a little bit more about how you work with teenagers, because you are another voice as well as I want to remind parents, you know, when they go in for math help before school, that’s another voice. When they stop by their favorite teacher’s classroom during study hall or lunch, that’s another positive voice. But if they want a consistent plan voice, how do you work with the teams that you’re supporting?


Natalie Borrell  25:34

So I have an amazing team of coaches that I work with that are all educators or life coaches in some capacity. So some are school psychologists like me, others have titles like health coach or mindset coach, and we work with teens individually and in groups, to teach them the skills that they need to be successful in school, but also their skills that they need to be successful in life. So that’s things like building your confidence, shifting your mindset, silencing that inner critic, but also things like managing your time, finding balance, planning, the future, managing stress, all of those skills that it takes. So we work with teams on those things. The best way to find out more about us is our website, which is www dot life success for teens.com. We’re also on Instagram, of course at life success for teams. But then a resource I would love to share is our brand new masterclass that talks about all of these things and how parents can help their teens learn those skills. And that website is www dot life success for teens. webinar.com.


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:45

Fantastic. Well, I hope people take advantage of if nothing else, the the tips and tricks that you mentioned in this episode, as well as your free video and for those for whom it might be a fit. You know, go ahead and reach out and see if this might help. But you gave us a lot to get started with. I really appreciate it Natalie, thanks for making the time. My


Natalie Borrell  27:08

pleasure, Lisa, thank you.


Lisa Marker Robbins  27:15

Thank you to Natalie for teaching us strategies about empowering our teens to overcome their inner critic. Remember, every step we take in understanding and supporting our teens as they step towards a more confident and resilient future for them. So your college bound homework this week, ask your teen What is your inner critic telling you now? And then as you discuss this give your teen would have Natalie strategies to try as they work to overcome that inner critic. If you want more conversation cues to support you and having meaningful conversations with your team, head over to flourish coaching co.com forward slash newsletter and sign up for our weekly newsletter. Each week you’ll receive a conversation cue, a free resource to use on the college bound journey and information about our latest podcast episode. Thanks for tuning in. And remember to subscribe to our podcast for more insightful episodes. Until next time, keep nurturing those important conversations with your teens and let’s help them flourish together.