Taming Your Inner Critic

No matter what your title is or how many years of professional experience you have under your belt, chances are you’ve experienced self-doubt. That negative little voice in your head telling you you’re not doing enough, you’re not qualified enough, you’re bound to fail? That’s your inner critic. 

It can be difficult to ignore completely, but it can be tamed. Here are five helpful exercises that will allow you to tame your inner critic and lean into a more peaceful coexistence with your inner critic.

Step 1: Give it a name

Your inner critic has a name — probably several names, actually. Take some time to consider the ways your inner critic tries to sabotage you. This quick and free assessment will help. Make a list of your top three saboteurs. If you can name them, you can tame them.

Step 2: Identify and analyze

Now that you’ve named them, put them to work in your favor. The truth is, your saboteurs are born from your strengths. Identify three strengths that your inner critic feeds on. Then identify three challenges or situations that rile up your negative inner voice. Analyze the relationship between these strengths and challenges.

Step 3: Find your other inner voice

If you’ve got a negative inner voice, you’ve got a positive one in there too. Now’s the time to find your other inner voice — and help it speak louder than your inner critic. Think of a time when you felt truly successful, alive, and empowered. What beliefs did you have about yourself in that moment? Those positive feelings can fuel your supportive inner voice when the critic rears its ugly head.

Step 4: Anticipate success

With that positive voice ringing in your head, anticipate specific circumstances that might stir your inner critic. Maybe it’s certain people, particular types of meetings, pressing deadlines, or specific interactions. Consider how you might respond to the circumstance without the interference of your inner critic. Envision yourself handling it successfully. 

Step 5: Acknowledge your power

When you subdue your inner critic in favor of embracing your strengths, celebrate. Acknowledge the power it takes to change your thought patterns. When you feel grounded and successful, your colleagues, clients, friends, and family all benefit. At the end of the day, take a moment to reflect on a situation where you benefited from taming your inner critic.

It takes time and effort to tame the critical beast, but with regular practice, you can keep it under lock and key. Even if it escapes from time to time, you’ll have the tools to capture and tame it again. Whether you’re in the C-Suite or climbing the ladder, learning to work through your self-doubt guarantees less daily stress and greater success in the long run.

Turn insight into action

Powerful question: In the next week, what’s one situation you can anticipate igniting your inner critic, and how can you plan to proactively talk back to it? 

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