I get this question ALL THE TIME! How do you deal with your inner critic?
Our inner critic, a close friend of self-doubt, is a voice inside our head that regularly criticises us for what we do, how we do it, what we want to do, or who we are even.
Does this mean you should never criticise anything you do or even aspire to do better? Of course not, wanting to grow and progress is healthy. You are welcome to give yourself constructive feedback and criticism whenever you see fit.
Simply note that constructive feedback will have some useful insights that will help you improve whatever you’re working on. Inner criticism doesn’t. It highlights problems but rarely offers useful solutions. The beliefs we hold to be true plays a big role in fuelling our inner critic. In the words of Kelly Lee Phipps, ‘If you argue for your limitations you get to keep them’.
As difficult as it may seems, there are ways to work around it, or with it, depending on how you want to look at it.
- Notice it: Become an expert at identifying it. Recognise it straight away by getting familiar with the characteristics described earlier. eg. if you’re going to be giving a presentation and you’re telling yourself that it’s going to be an epic fail, you hopefully know that your inner critic is talking.
- Distance yourself from it: You are not your thoughts. You are not your inner critic.
- Observe, don’t judge: The idea is to avoid engaging in a power struggle with our inner critic once we understand that however twisted it may seem, it could actually have a higher positive intent. If you tell yourself mean things all the time it won’t hurt as much when you hear it from somebody else.
- Tap into your sense of humour: If you think about it, our inner critics are so predictable and cliché that it is laughable. I often call it out by sharing my ‘crazy’ thoughts with my closest friend. When you say it out loud, it sounds even more absurd. If you want to hear and see what mine is like, you can check it out here.