“I see you. I hear you. But I’m showing up anyway.” – Brené Brown
So many accomplished, talented women are being undermined by a voice in their heads. The voice that is constantly questioning whether they should or shouldn’t do something, what the consequences will be. And even when they do make a decision, second-guessing whether or not that was the right thing to do. That voice is often referred to as your inner critic. And your inner critic tends to blow things way out of proportion, making it difficult to tame, remain centred and show up with your full capabilities.
Your inner critic is hurting your career.
In our work, we’ve seen thousands of women grapple with their inner critics. It’s hard to believe our inner critic is just trying to keep us in control and safe because most of the time, it doesn’t feel like that. The voice inside our head loves to fixate on the minor details, leaving us feeling judged and doubting our own capabilities. Unable to switch off the constant worry and fear that something we do or say will have negative consequences and plague us with self-doubt.
Our tips to successfully tame it!
Here are a few tips from our book ‘Core Confidence’ to support you to turn down the volume of your inner critic and allow you to embrace your inner-queen.
1. Evaluate the cost.
The first step to befriending this inner voice is evaluating how it is currently affecting you. Our inner critic loves to focus on the ‘what ifs’. Getting stuck in this loop keeps us from accessing and unleashing our full potential! Consider what it is costing you in terms of not sharing your expertise, contributing fully and owning your talent. Every time we stay quiet rather than step forward, we miss recognition, opportunities and possibly even promotions. Once we understand our inner critic’s impact on our life, personally and professionally, we will be more inclined to tame it!
2. Recognise the voice.
Being able to recognise our inner critic’s presence is a huge step towards taming it. The inner critic manifests when we’re small, and its first job is to keep us safe in difficult situations – the problem is that we grow up, and although we’re no longer at risk, our brain still perceives the same level of threat. Start to pinpoint the situations or dynamics that trigger your inner critic. This will allow you to become more conscious of its presence and locate where it derails your progress.
3. Judgement won’t help.
When we start to familiarise ourselves with our inner critic, it can actually spark an overreaction. The more we become aware of this inner voice, the more we judge it, which only escalates the disharmony between ourselves and our inner critic. To move away from rash responses such as judgement and anger, we can lean in with a little bit of compassion and acceptance and start to befriend our inner voice. Even though the voice may not be super supportive in the current situation, we must recognise its intention is ultimately good. This can feel overwhelming and even a step in the wrong direction. We encourage you to hold it lightly and see if you loosen your judgement of yourself and your inner critic.
4. Redefine your relationship with failure.
Often our inner critic is so loud because we are worried about how others will perceive us. The fear of embarrassment and shame often outweighs the benefits of taking a risk. This results in staying silent, not contributing and not performing to your full capabilities. But the truth is, we cannot grow and develop ourselves without making mistakes, which yes, includes failing at times. It is imperative to let go of the need to get everything right and to welcome the learning opportunity that comes with taking the risk of failing. Redefining our relationship with fear and failure enables more options and freedom. And freedom brings many possibilities, including the desire to try new things and foster a growth mindset.
5. Acknowledge and accept it.
A key part in taming our inner critic is understanding we cannot silence it, but we can befriend it. The key here is to acknowledge it with compassion for all it has done for us in the past. Once you accept the role your inner critic is trying to play, it becomes easier to tame it, and from there, for you to unleash your full potential.
6. Right-size the stories you tell yourself.
This is all about engaging with the inner critic differently than we have in the past. Spotlight where the voice in your head is stopping you from doing things you’d like to or keeping you quiet when you know you’ve got something valuable to say. By using powerful coaching questions, you can right-size the voice in your head, and let it know that you appreciate its concern – but actually, you’ve got this. It may even be helpful to involve another person (a coach, mentor, stakeholder, etc.) to get an external perspective.
7. Befriend your inner critic.
Research has shown that understanding and befriending our inner critic lowers self-criticism, lessens critical self-talk, and improves our frame of mind, leading to more self-belief and willingness to try new things, even when they feel a bit risky.
So, what do you have to lose?
Remember to be patient; reframing and redefining our relationship with our inner critic takes time. But you can do this, good luck!
Watch one of our Acts of Confidence clients talk about taming her inner critic below.