Your Inner Critic
Your inner critic is alive and well and is often called the Imposter Syndrome, a term coined in the 1970’s. The inner critic is a critical inner voice that is judgmental, critical and demeaning. The term is used often in psychology or psychotherapy.
When the inner critic takes over, it can be debilitating with self-doubt and fear to move forward. Kris Kelso, certified leadership coach, shared how his inner critic threatened to take over even when writing his book, Overcoming the Imposter. The big takeaway from this is that it doesn’t matter what level or what field you are in, there is a danger of your inner critic taking over to stymie you and keep you stuck.
How often do you check social media? According to a report on Backlink, more than 3.96 billion people currently use social media, almost double from 2015. The average person has 8.6 social media accounts, also doubled since 2014. If you are like most, you will check your account at least several times a day.
The average time spent online daily, according to datareportal, is 6 hours and 43 minutes. Facebook has the largest user base, followed by YouTube. In 2020, the average time spent on social media is 2 hours 24 minutes globally for users aged 16 to 64 on any device, up 38% in the last 5 years.
When you look at posts and stories on your feed, what comes to the surface? Often times, it’s polished and filtered posts, color-coordinated and perfect makeup. This provides the perfect opportunity to compare your output, your look and your success. This doesn’t only happen on social media. This happens every day with business owners and high achievers, who are especially vulnerable. High achievers hold themselves to high standards and often work alone. Below are three ways to overcome, or at least manage, your inner critic.
One: Reframe Failure
There are many books written on failing, such as the highly rated Failing Forward by John Maxwell and the interesting Fantastic Failures by Reynolds. Many leaders profess that they have learned more from their failures than their successes.
Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times in his career. He held the record for strikeouts for decades but he said about his failures, Every strike brings me closer to the next home run. In this way, he reframed failure as a stepping stone to success. It is fairly well known that Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. He held 1,093 patents, but only some of them became successful. He lost money on the failures, but only in the short-term. The impact of his successes far outweighed the loss of his failures. (FREE Head Trash Course here: HEAD TRASH)
If you are an entrepreneur, an inventor or business owner, you have to be willing to fail. Your inner critic will tell you are just a poser, or an imposter. But that will only be true if you choose to not learn from your mistakes. There are about six inches and three pounds of matter between your ears but what happens in that space affects your whole life. You have daily decisions and choices on whether you use your experience and failures to learn and grow or whether you give up. Put Your Mindset to Work by Reed & Stoltz goes in-depth about neuroplasticity of the brain and the power of the myelin sheath to change patterns. I talk about this principle also in Music for Kids and how the myelin sheath is built up with solid repetition. This is especially powerful for keeping the mind sharp and building on good habits.
Two: Build Trust in Yourself
We are our own worst enemies. According to a KPMG Scholarly study, confidence is the leading obstacle for women for not taking risks over the age of forty. However, I believe this also applies to many men, especially at the halftime of life. You are living up to you and no one else.
It is worth taking time to understand your strengths as well as your personality. An interesting read is The Road Back to You by Ian Cron about Enneagrams which analyzes nine personality types. When you understand yourself more, it’s easier to trust your decisions. There is no one type of person that has a greater chance of success.
You have unique qualities that make you different than anyone else. If you are embarking on a new project, it always takes a certain amount of risk. As you step away from what’s comfortable, it feels vulnerable and even unstable. But by doing so, you will learn what will work and what won’t. We tend to compare ourselves with others that are farther along in their journey, but the journey of most successful entrepreneurs includes failing. The result is trust in what to try again or what to never do again, which is even more valuable.
Three: Be Intentional
If you decide to dive off a high dive, you need to do it with intention. Otherwise, the result could be a belly flop that is quite painful. This illustration is drawn from my experience. Standing on that diving board high above the pool, I was afraid and didn’t follow through with the correct form. After unsuccessful three tries with belly flops that hurt, I finally executed the dive and passed my swim class.
A good, solid routine is one of the best ways to be intentional. When you establish a regular, deliberate routine, you have more control of the outcome of your days. Notice I said more and not all. None of us can control every outcome, but we can live our days purposefully and with intention. One of my favorite books is Atomic Habits by James Clear. Put it on your yearly reading list—it’s worth it! Also get your free download here: Goals Worksheets.
Life has its interruptions, but when you take the time to look honestly at your failures and what you’ve learned from them, you’ll build trust in your abilities. As you understand your abilities and your personality type, you’ll then be able to create an intentional routine that works for you. This will empower you to silence that inner critic, that will always be there, but can be subdued!
See Kris Kelso’s Reading list here: Reading List
The inner critic can’t be totally silenced but it can be subdued.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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