Deny it or not – sometimes, we are our worst critics. When making decisions, pursuing a new career, or taking risks, we often struggle with the inner critic inside us, someone who always reminds us that disappointment, frustration and failure are just around the corner – ready to conquer us. It is the voice that only ourselves can hear, but is so powerful that it can prevent us from reaching our goals and living life to the fullest.
The sad truth is that we have no power to shut down our inner critic. It is part of who we are. Actually, it is a necessary part. Imagine this. You have to cross the street. Without your inner critic warning you of possible dangers, you might cross without paying attention to the speedy cars passing by, as well as the road signs or stop lights. Yes, our inner critic helps us stay away from danger, and in other cases, from being hurt, failing, and so on.
But in life, there are decisions and risks that we have to push through in order to reach our goals. Like for instance, in getting to know a potential mate. Your inner critic might tell you not to entertain that person in your life as you may just get hurt, betrayed, or dumped later. But what if it’s the other way around? What if that person is the one who is going to complete you, to make you happy, and to make you a better person? You’ll never know until you try. This applies to all other aspects of life – career, health, family, etc.
The good news is that you have the power to take control of your inner critic and use it to your advantage. The question is how? The key to managing your inner critic is to develop a balanced relationship with it. You can do this by following these steps:
- 1) Understand what your inner voice is trying to tell you. The negative voice inside you is not your enemy. It is just trying to help you (although many times it ends up ruining your plans and decisions). It may have useful points as well. You just have to listen. Assess if what your inner critic saying is true, logical and important and try to consider it if yes. But remember that at the end of the day, it is your logical, smart and optimistic self who will decide.
- 2) Recognise the events or situations that often trigger your inner critic. It might be there whenever you are asked to speak in front of many people, when you are assigned to handle a big project, and so on. Often, our inner critic arises from the failures we have experienced in the past. Maybe you just need to work on these areas so the next time you encounter them, you are more confident.
- 3) Develop optimism. You inner critic is more powerful when you are pessimistic. Instead of getting carried away with those criticisms, tell your critic self that you understand that he or she is just trying to protect you, but you have to push through with something to reach your goals.
- 4) Act in spite of your inner critic. Keep your inner critic close by, but not too close that it’s already able to dictate you of what to do. As soon as your inner critic starts ranting, ask yourself – Is it helping me or hurting me? This critical person is just a small part of you. You are much wiser than your inner critic to understand his or her real motives. The moment you identify that your inner critic is just overreacting, go and pursue with your plans.
Whilst your inner critic can be helpful at times, never allow it to rule your life and be bullied by it. Again, it is just a part of you, not a whole. Don’t let it get in the way and stop you from developing and becoming the person you want to be.