I work with many highly-talented, high-performing executives with proven track records of success.
Inside, however, they don’t always feel secure.
The inner critic is something most of us carry around. It’s that voice that nags you, saying you’re not good enough, you’re going to be judged, and you should probably just keep quiet right now.
I am getting to know my inner critic pretty well. Just writing this post raises the feeling that people will think I’m being a know-it-all. Who am I to give advice, anyway? Sometimes it feels like my inner critic isn’t just one voice, but a full-sized marching band.
So I can relate to my clients, who have accomplished a lot, and yet hear the inner critic whenever they try something new.
Sometimes the way we react to the inner critic turns out to be another way we beat ourselves up: “Why do I have to always be so negative? Why can’t I be more confident all the time?” Other times we react to the critic by ignoring the voice and pushing down the feelings of self-criticism in order to get through a meeting, a conversation, or a day.
There’s another approach, and when I or my client can pull it off, it seems to have the best result. Try saying hello to your inner critic. Get to know what the critic is telling you, and how you feel. “There it is again, that self-doubt feeling. I always get that gnawing in the pit of my stomach, and that inner voice telling me that I can’t do it.” You could even give your inner critic a name. When we feel and name the discomfort, it seems to have less power over us. Once you’ve felt it, recognize that it’s a common, normal part of being human.
We can all try to have more compassion for ourselves.
From this compassion will come the courage to be imperfect, and to go ahead, take risks and remain open, despite what the inner critic will have to say about it.