Master Your Inner Critic
I met a leader in California who said he didn’t have a loud inner critic. I think he was smoking weed.
We talk to ourselves all the time. It’s normal. Sometimes you’re harsh on yourself. You say nasty things you wouldn’t say to anyone else. But your negative inner voice is useful on occasion.
Gail Godwin wrote, “The Watcher at the Gate,” an essay about the restraining voice who lived inside her. She wrote him a letter and asked, “‘What is it you’re so afraid I will do?’ Then I held my pen for him, and he replied instantly and with a candor that has kept me from truly despising him.”
“‘Fail,’ he wrote back.”
#1. Notice the lies your inner critic uses:
- “You’re getting fired,” after receiving corrective feedback.
- “You idiot,” when you say something stupid. ‘Idiot’ is my inner critic’s favorite word.
- “You’re a loser,” when customers choose another person for the job.
- “Nobody likes you.” Your inner bully loves exaggeration.
When things go smoothly your inner bully sneers, “Don’t blow it.” But he goes nuts when you stumble.
Noticing is the beginning of freedom.
Tip: Your negative voice isn’t you. Mine is my mom’s voice.
#2. Remember Tool #48 in “Writing Tools”:
“Limit self-criticism in early drafts. Turn it loose during revision.”
You look like a drunk octopus when you’re a novice. Let yourself be a novice.
You can’t learn if you can’t look stupid.
#3. Give your inner critic a job:
When you’re competent ask your self-judge, “How could I be better?” Or “How am I holding myself back?”
When preparing for a project ask, “What might go wrong?” And “How likely is that?”
#4. Set 2 rules:
- Low competence – light criticism.
- High competence – focused detailed criticism.
The words you say to yourself shape your future.
When is your inner critic useful?
How are you putting a gag in your negative inner voice?
Your Brain has a Mind of Its Own: Brain Management Strategies
5 Ways to Expose Your Inner Critic
Six Limiting Beliefs That Hold You Back
Can Managers and Leaders help alleviate the inner critic of staff by creating a safe space (encouraging support) for them to explore and fail in certain situations and communicate that it’s ok to fail in those situations?
When I started my role here in Business Development – the owner came in and made an interesting comment. “If you never fail – you’re not trying hard enough.” It’s okay to fail (and learn) – just not all of the time. We all have failures and victories – it’s simply part of life. I like the thoughts regarding your inner-voice. We can be – and most likely are, our own harshest critics.
Appreciating #4 the most as at different levels of our development we are certainly more open to responding rather than reacting to our inner critic. Reacting with defensiveness is usually a sign of lack of confidence. It takes patience, time and encouragement from leaders and colleagues to build self esteem. I agree with the owner of Kelvin’s business that “failure and success” are part of life and looking at both calmly neither is awful or fantastic- just points of learning and growing. Positively, Pauline
Don’t have one myself and no, I don’t smoke weed.
Your call out (essentially saying ‘California’ is lying) is why I am traditionally very very quiet on this issue. I feel incredibly blessed not to have one either – from what I understand they can be very very nasty…. The suggestions you’ve made are valuable, and I’m sure helpful to many – but there ARE those of us out there who Don’t have one and no, we aren’t necessarily smoking weed.
An inner voice need not be a vicious voice. It can be a questioning voice asking with curiosity “Is there a better or more efficient way of dealing with this situation?”Are you helping yourself by reacting this way?” “Is this really the best person to have in your life right now?” Those are questions I have asked myself or the inner voice has asked me. Sometimes I listened. Other times I ignored the voice and often suffered the consequences. Is the inner voice an enemy or a friend. Thagt’s up to us to choose. I believe that each one of us DOES have an inner voice. Pauline