I’m sure you have heard these voices many a times in your own head:
“You can’t do that, you are simply not good at it.” – Questions on your capability.
“ You shouldn’t do this, do you even know what will other people think of you doing this?” – Concerns about other people’s judgment, and possibly force you to change your behavior to please others.
“What? You want to start a new business? But you don’t know enough! You don’t have a website, logo, business card, etc. You can’t get far without all these, you know that, right? – Scared of the starting-line, keep you indecisive and passive.
“No, you don’t want to do this, there are other things that are of high priority” – Afraid of the finishing line, you remain unfocused, you procrastinate your projects or even quit in the middle.
Did all these voices sound familiar?
Please join me to welcome your inner critic – a dangerous monster living inside your own head.
You are all set to start a new venture or to execute your idea of writing much awaited book, or starting a new business, or simply trying to be out of your comfort zone and exploring new ideas…and the first voice you are sure to hear is of your inner critic. And the tone of your inner critic is almost always negative, fearful, and self-sabotaging, trying harder to pull you back into your comfort zone, where you are safe and small.
Yes, that’s his job: to keep you safe and small.
But that’s so frustrating. You want to fly high, and here your inner critic tries to cut your wings even before they are fully grown. Each time that nagging, self-sabotaging voice turns out to be more powerful than your desires. What to do?
I hear you.
The truth is we all have our inner critic. And the majority of us don’t know how to deal with it. And therefore, we either end up procrastinating or fighting with our inner critic until we start to bleed, sweat and shed tears. We feel powerless and defeated.
What Our Inner Critic Does to Us?
Our inner critic always pulls our legs. He shows the crappy part of our past and refrains us from doing anything new in life. He just feeds our brain with negative thoughts such as, we are less capable, we don’t have enough, and that we cannot do, shouldn’t do or don’t want to do.
End result? We either procrastinate or we give up on our ventures.
That book that you wanted to write, never sees the light of the day.
The six pack abs that you wanted to have, never comes out of your belly.
The dream vacation, dream home, dream job remains your dreams only.
You remain the same person. No change, no challenge and no growth in life.
You’re bored, unfulfilled and even frustrated at times.
Why Do We Have Inner Critic?
Because we are human. And because we can do this to ourselves.
Along with many important systems of the body, we also have the nervous system. Similarly, along with many positive thoughts we also have our inner critic. As our nervous system keeps us alert and safe in the times of danger, inner critic too has an important but hidden role. We will find it out more about it later.
Then Why We Do this Forever?
Because we let our inner critic become our habit, and do nothing about replacing that habit or using our inner critic in our own advantage.
What Happens If We Don’t Do Anything and Let Our Inner Critic Win Each Time?
Remember thoughts – feelings -action cycle? Your similar thoughts give birth to corresponding emotions and your emotions influence your actions. You act based on your negative emotions. And your negative actions bring negative results. You set yourself to lose the battle even before you fight.
This is interesting, isn’t it?
What Can We Do to Tame that Nagging Voice in Our Head?
Five things that you should do when the next time your inner critic visits you
You Can Not Win If You Decide to Fight.
If you chose to fight, you’re actually just fighting with yourself. And that’s a waste of energy.
Instead, look at him as a frightened, insecure child who has a less than helpful way of communicating his lack of confidence.
Deal With Compassion
Instead of treating your inner critic as your enemy, treat it as a small friend who is immature, afraid with no useful or helpful communication skills to convey his concerns. Your inner critic deserves your compassion, not anger. Make a peace with your inner critic. Listen to his concerns and talk to him compassionately.
Listen to Your Inner Critic
Listening to your inner critic with deep attention will reveal the secret pattern of concerns that he has for you. These concerns are always positive and the method of expressing them is always negative. If you can overlook that negative part, you can understand your inner critic in a healthy manner.
For example, imagine on a perfect evening you are sitting with your laptop to write your memoir. And your inner critic starts creating ruckus in your mind…
“You have a bad writing style, who is gonna read it?”
“You messed up your last chapter’s content, you don’t know how to outline and write impressively or to use the right words to tell your story interesting way.”
“Already other people have written about this part, you have nothing new to add or say.”
“No, no let’s do something useful instead. We don’t want to write this book right now. First focus on reading few memoirs, studying the style and learn to improve your writing.”
So did you notice the positives in negatives?
Your inner critic is worried about:
– writing style
– writing all interesting parts that have never said before, and may sound interesting to your readers.
– making it more impressive and interesting.
– we don’t want to write fluff and publish a crappy book that nobody would like to buy or read.
But the words he chooses to convey his fears or concerns are not very helpful. He just doesn’t know how to express himself.
Use Your Critic for Your Advantage
When you are creating something (for example, writing), don’t listen to your critics. Once you are done with the creative part, you can take help from your critic and reconstruct your creation to bring perfection to it (for example, editing).
You have to know when to listen to your inner critic and when to make him shut up.
Know that he might have something useful to say, he just doesn’t know how to say it.
Process Your Fear
Sometimes our inner critic is fearful, and he doesn’t want you to approach the unknown because of the uncertainty in the result.
We almost never process our fear thoroughly. Slow down and be comfortable looking into the eyes of your fear. Spend some time with your emotions and feelings.
You can then take a pen and paper, and start writing following points.
– What is the worst that can happen?
– What is the best that can happen?
– What are the things that I don’t have direct control over?
– What are the things that I do have direct control over?
– And finally, what are the things that I can influence?
Focus on best outcomes, take actions on what you can control and influence and simply don’t worry about your uncontrollable factors.
Processing your fear helps it to reduce to a level where it doesn’t frighten you anymore. Now there is no fear but the excitement of exploring something new. Remember, fear cannot drive, but excitement can.
That’s all about it. Follow these 5 steps and you are ready to work on your dream project or idea along with your inner critic in most peaceful and productive way.
And yes, make sure to cover your basics – sleep, exercise and nutrition – because when you’re tired and hungry, your inner critic is more grumpy and afraid. If you take care of your basic needs, you can tame the mean monster to be a little angel quickly and effectively.
Call to Action:
Let me know how you deal with your inner critic in the comment below.