You’ve worked your socks off, but you’re feeling confident, cool and calm because your presentation is finally ready. This is it … you’re going to show everyone you’ve got what it takes to play in the big leagues.
You’ve checked and rechecked the numbers, the visuals and the handouts, and you’ve given yourself the “You got this!” motivational speech. There’s just one little problem.
That knot in your stomach you’ve been chalking up to nothing more than nerves has continued to grow and now you’re not only looking for problems you’re starting to second guess yourself.
“What have I missed? Am I going to end up making a fool of myself? Maybe this is a sign that I should ask for an extension? What made me think I could do this?!”
The opposition force is hard at work in your head, and it instinctively knows just where you’re most vulnerable.
Your inner critic is having a field day.
It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head. ~Sally Kempton
Meet Your Inner Critic
The intensity and frequency of the inner voice will vary for each of us, but we all have one. Often it’s barely a whisper, but sometimes, especially when you dare to step outside your comfort zone, it can become a deafening roar.
It insults, critiques, pokes, prods and questions, repeatedly reminding you that you’re not good enough.
This is your inner critic at its worst and it tends to fall into one of two categories, “bad self” or “weakness.”
The bad self is rooted in shame and can stem from feeling you’re unlovable; flawed; undesirable; inadequate or incompetent.
The weak self stems primarily from fear and anxiety. It may result from worry over perceived lack of control, vulnerability, isolation, fear of abandonment or inability to express emotions.
So where does this little critic that knows you so well come from?
Your inner critic represents a combination of all the limiting beliefs you have accumulated through your life and its relentless commentary can affect how you feel about yourself, the way you relate to the world, and especially, what you accomplish.
Learning to understand and manage your inner voice may be one of the most important things you can ever do because of the overall impact it can have on your life.
It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power. ~Robert T. Kiyosaki
Working With Your Inner Critic
If you go in search of advice on how to deal with your inner critic you’re naturally going to find a variety of opinions and strategies. However one thing pretty much everyone agrees on is that it’s difficult, if not impossible to make that voice disappear entirely.
And let me challenge you with this notion, why would you even want it to disappear? It is, after all, an extension of your own beliefs, and if you can learn to understand the nature of that little voice and interpret the messages, you can not only make peace with it, you can use it to help you (finally!) banish those limiting beliefs.
Here are 4 steps to help you make peace with your inner critic.
Acknowledge the Inner Voice
Awareness is the first step to recognizing and manage your internal critic. Try catching yourself the next time you realize you’re feeling anxious, unfocused or numb. Rather than resisting it, take a few deep breaths and relax so that you can better determine what’s really going on.
Identify Your Triggers
Chances are that there are certain situations or circumstances that tend to send your inner critic into overdrive. For many it’s whenever they are faced with change or having to test themselves in some way, but whatever your trigger(s) may be, identifying them will help you to avoid an unpleasant spike in emotions so you can remain calm and objective as you do the work to understand what your inner voice is trying to tell you.
Learn to Interpret the Messages
Rather than resisting a message from your inner critic, if you confront it with curiosity and detachment you’ll be able to reclaim control and once you’re recentered you can begin asking yourself questions. “What am I really afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen, and would that be so bad?”
I highly recommend using a journal for this process, in part because it will help you to clarify your thoughts, but also because it will give you a valuable reference to help you understand and manage your inner voice.
When you’re able to interpret the message objectively, chances are you’ll see you don’t need to be concerned; you can let it go and move on.
Turn Your Critic into Your Inner Coach
To me, this is an incredibly powerful concept. You have far more experience, knowledge, and compassion than you give yourself credit for. When you can tap into your belief system through your inner voice you can learn to quickly discern between those messages intended to help or alert you to an actual problem versus those that should be acknowledged and then gently ushered out the back door.
Best of all, by learning to understand, confront and make peace with your inner critic, you will no longer be dominated by its negativity which can create a major shift in your level of self-esteem and self-worth.
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.