Your inner critic is the voice you hear when you are full of doubt about whether or not you can accomplish something. It might sound like you or it might sound like someone in your life who was quite critical of you.
Typically when you think of the inner critic it’s a negative connotation. This voice’s thoughts can make you feel unworthy, judged, alone, not good enough, not smart enough…the list goes on and on. We try to avoid listening to it because it makes us feel like shit. Remember, our primitive brain doesn’t like pain and this is emotional pain at it’s finest.
However, your inner critic is really good at identifying obstacles. All of the thoughts, beliefs, and stories that it brings up are the obstacles that you must overcome in order to achieve what you are trying to achieve. The critic just hasn’t learned the art of sugar coating any of it.
The trick is that we need to listen to but not believe the inner critic.
What if instead of trying to resist our inner critic, we let it go and really listened to it and treated everything it says as a gift of insight for the obstacles for which we need a plan? What if we treated what it says as scientific data that we can be really curious with and experiment with?
The best way to find out what your inner critic is saying is to set a goal each and every day and then ask yourself the question, “What are all the things in my way of accomplishing this today?”. Write your answer down. You are going to be amazed (and maybe a little shocked) at some of the stuff that comes up. Do this every day and see if you can find one thought or story that is coming up a lot. Come up with a plan to overcome that obstacle.
You can do this with daily, weekly, yearly, 5 year or longer term goals.
It really does work. For me, my inner critic told me that I was going to get fat if I quit smoking and that being fat was way worse for my health than smoking. I believed that for a long time and therefore failed every time I tried to quit smoking because I gained weight. It was only when I questioned this belief and put a plan in place to watch what I ate while I quit smoking that I was able to achieve my goal.
Set your goals and put your inner critic to work for you!
PS: If you find yourself stressed and anxious and have tried everything to get it under control, come on over to The High Achiever’s Stress Management Collective. We share our tips for managing stress and anxiety and have weekly lives to discuss a relevant topic. We would love to have you!