4 Proven Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic
We’ve all felt it: That tiny voice in our head that weighs us down and tells us we aren’t good enough, that voice that tells us to turn back and carry on with the status quo. That nagging voice that says everyone is watching and judging you. The truth is your biggest critic is yourself. This voice is an impediment to self actualization and can stymie your ability to achieve your full potential.
You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do. – Eleanor Roosevelt
So how do you silence your inner critic and put it back in the cupboard? The first step is to identify the judge. Is it your mind telling you you aren’t good enough? Is it the expectations that are heaped on you from outside influences? Whatever the case may be, identifying and silencing that voice will allow you to grow and build true self confidence.
In a 24/7 society that requires us to take on heavier workloads and work longer hours it’s no surprise that people suffer from perfectionism. It’s an ideal that no one can truly achieve yet people day in and day out push themselves to the limit — but for what?
Here are some full proof steps that I practice to stay present & embrace that inner critic.
Introspection: Become Aware of Your Thoughts
For a lot of people their inner critic is so deeply ingrained in their psyche that they don’t even know it’s there. Plainly put, introspection is the examination of one’s own mental and emotional processes. Tapping into this depository of data and information is something people seldom do. Taking a look at our thoughts and motivations is a great way to realize what makes us tick and optimize our day to day practices.
It may seem a bit counterintuitive but doing absolutely nothing is an effective way do learn a lot about yourself. By slowing down and taking time to reflect you’ll be able to pin point the emotional triggers that motivate you. Here are some things I do to get more in tune with my thoughts.
- Meditate: Take 10 minutes out of your day to think about absolutely nothing. It’s a great to way fine tune your thought processes and focus on what really matters.
- Work Out: I often find I do my best thinking when I am at the gym or running.
- Talk It Out: Hop on the phone with a friend and talk about your day. Viewing things from a different perspective is a great way to learn more about yourself.
- Take Note: Doing a mental inventory can be as easy as taking pen to paper. Don’t believe me? Check out this video:
Stop Ruminating – Don’t Look Back
I read something not too long ago that caught my eye: “See failure as data”
More often that not people look at failure as a roadblock to future success even when empirical data states otherwise. Think of any skill you may have mastered. Now think of how many tireless hours you spent perfecting that craft. Popular wisdom states it takes at least 10,000 hours to perfect that craft. While the validity of that precise number is up for debate, the concept is clear: it takes time to get things right and you’ll make thousands of mistakes along the way.
So why spend time dwelling on mistakes. See them as stepping stones to future success. Rather than spending your time thinking of every little thing that went wrong — think of what you got right and move forward from there. And brush that dirt off your shoulders.
Step Out Of Your Shoes
Think of the last time a friend came to you for help. It could have been something as trivial as a question on what to wear for the evening or as emotionally taxing as a question on their relationship. Chances are you walked out of that conversation feeling like you truly helped your friend. You likely weighed the pros and cons for them and provided them with a blueprint moving forward.
We often give others better advice than we give ourselves. For some reason when it comes to our own problems we coil up and get caught over analyzing everything. The term is coined paralysis by analysis for a reason — it literally feels like you’re stuck. Stepping out of your own shoes every now and then is a great way to see the bigger picture.
Here’s a trick I learned not too long ago. Next time you encounter a problem or situation that has your mind running in circles follow these steps: Sit down, shut up, close your eyes and think about how you would advise a similarly situated person in your shoes. Chances are your advice will be simple.
Overcome Your Fears
One of my biggest fears well into my 20s was the fear of public speaking. I am not alone in this regard — it ranks up there with the fear of heights. Most people have no problem running their mouths on crowded street corners, amongst crowds of people at sporting events or at a restaurant. But for some reason going up in front of a quiet crowd and opening our mouths is terrifying.
One way I overcame this fear was to see it as an opportunity. I knew if I got more involved in public speaking engagements my career would follow a positive trajectory. Who wants to work with a shy marketer — right?
In college I joined Model United Nations as it was a great way to practice. I envisioned how inconsequential failure would be and went from there. If I choked during a speech — which I did often — I’d just laugh it off and say to myself “I’m never going to see these people again.” (And I haven’t since 😉 )
Once I started my career I knew the stakes were a bit higher because they would reflect on my brand and persona. However, I took the same steps to ensure I wouldn’t take myself too seriously. If I failed or my speech sucked — so what? I’d spend additional time after the speech to answer any questions or fill any gaps — there’s always an out. Now I enjoy public speaking so much that I often go overseas to speak at marketing conferences:
Learning about your inner critic is a tough process but once you figure out what makes you tick and what drives you, you can move past a lot of the things that hold you back.
What are some methods you use to tame your inner critic?