It’s true, you really can be your worst critic. That little voice that exists to keep you up at night and tell you in no uncertain terms that, ‘woahhhhh, you’re in over your head here, buddy’ is an incredibly irritating and all too common development.
This annoying voice has a tendency to pop up before big events. You’re starting a new job the next day, PING, there’s the voice. You’re putting yourself forward to speak at an event, PING, you betcha, the voice is back.
Your inner critic definitely enjoys piping up in times of uncertainty or change, in fact, it thrives off the buzz. It’s enough to throw you off course and inject that glimmer of self-doubt that can go around and around in your head.
How can you tell your inner critic to simmer down, change its tune or use it to fuel success instead?
In one of Harvard’s most viewed commencement speeches, J.K Rowling (I know I always use her as an example but she’s so wise!), told students that they needed to be able to accept failure on their journey to success. J.K spoke about how she’d hit rock bottom and it was in this moment where she felt like she’d failed, that she could truly build a foundation for growth.
On her journey to being the badass we see before us today, she faced several rejection letters from publishers. And her message that “It is impossible to live without failing at something” is something that you and your inner critic need to make peace with. Life isn’t perfect and dealing with the imperfections is how you learn to succeed.
Getting something wrong is better than not trying at all. And once you’re making progress, it’s important to take responsibility for your success too – this can be something as simple as accepting a compliment.
Limit Social Media
Social media tools have turned everything upside down. Period. The digital landscape was once something more separate that you could choose to dip in and out of. Fast-forward 10 years and internet culture are so intertwined with the ‘offline world’ that your ability to switch off is limited.
Platforms like Instagram often just show someone else’s highlights, not the outtakes. This can make you feel inadequate, alienated or unsatisfied with your current situation when you’re scrolling through an account and constantly comparing yourself.
If you’re starting to hear your inner critic more and more, or louder, taking some time out of social media or limiting your usage can give you some better perspective. When you feel awful, social media can be a bad/lonely place to be. Real world experience and conversation can help to reconnect with others and yourself.
Laugh at yourself
When you take your inner critic seriously, you’re giving it power. One of the best ways to tackle your inner demon is to disarm it. How? By listening and realizing the absolute ridiculousness of what you’re telling yourself.
I mean, some of this stuff, jeez. ‘You’re gonna suck and ALL of your family and friends will think you’re a dumbass!!!!’ – it might not be word for word, but it’s along the same lines.
You’d never dream of saying the stuff you say to yourself, to someone else…well, unless you’re an utter psychopath.
Sometimes writing down what you’re thinking of just taking a step back and being objective can make you see how ludicrous your inner critic is most of the time!
Talk to someone you respect and voice your critique – sometimes saying it loud can take away its power too.
Your inner critic works by helping to paint a nightmarish vision of failure or humiliation – ‘Everyone in the audience is thinking, why are you here and that joke was NOT funny!’
It’s powerful because you start to imagine and visualize things going wrong and your worst doubts coming true. Before you know it, you’re avoiding doing the thing you were scared about. And this can happen over and over again, until, well…you’ve given up so many opportunities that you don’t know how to get started again.
What you need to do to counteract nightmare scenarios and start to visualize success instead. Worries and fears are completely natural, but you need to train yourself to mentally believe you deserve success and the opportunity you’re going for.
Get tough with yourself and paint a picture with you as the focal point. You’re your worst critic but you can also be your biggest cheerleader. If you’re not going to tell yourself you deserve to be somewhere then no one else will – why shouldn’t it be you that’s successful? Why the heck should it be someone else instead?
Believe that you deserve a place at the table!
You’re the one in control, not your weird, annoying inner critic. Tell them to take a hike cos you’ve got plans!