Don’t Believe Everything You Tell Yourself by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Think back to when you were a child. Everything seemed possible. Even the biggest possible accomplishment or task seemed like something you could tackle. Kids seem fearless and limitless in their capacity to try new things without any fear of failure or self-doubt in their ability to accomplish their goals.

Now, fast forward to your life today. Do you still feel that sense of limitless possibilities? Do you immediately see the opportunities in front of you and eagerly get started, or do you find yourself holding back or even talking yourself out of doing something new?

What is the difference between how we approached things as a kid and how we look at things as an adult? One of the big differences is that we all develop an inner critic as we age and have different experiences. This inner voice or inner critic is a pessimist. It is always focused on the glass being half empty. Over time, and as some of the things we tried had different outcomes than we wanted, our inner critic gathered data and real-world examples to replay in our minds over and over again.

Banishing the Inner Critic

Unfortunately, the inner critic is not helpful. The inner critic is not the voice of reason or the voice that protects you from taking unnecessary risks. The inner critic is the voice that sabotages and derails opportunities by creating doubt and lowering a sense of self-esteem and self-actualization.

The inner critic message is only one possible message. There is also an inner chearleader and an inner optimist with equally impressive messages. We are more likely to tune into our inner critic, but this is a habit that we can change.

When you hear the inner critic begin to share a message of negativity, act immediately. It is important to recognize this message as a distortion or fear of making a change or trying something new. It is not reality; it is one negative view of reality.

Listening to the negative message the inner critic delivers only creates self-doubt and lower levels of self-confidence. As soon as you realize the inner critic is speaking, you can:

  • Label the voice – acknowledging this is the inner critic with a negative message is the first step.
  • Do a reality check – ask yourself if this is reality or perception or fear rising in your mind. Recognizing this is a “what if” rather than reality allows you to build a positive message.
  • Look for evidence – keeping a list of accomplishments, personal success stories, and things you feel good about in life is an effective way to shut down the inner critic
  • Develop a positive message to replace the negative message.
  • Explore ways to improve professionally and personally.

The most effective way to silence your inner critic is to have self-confidence. Be sure to celebrate successes and positive changes, even small events, to banish the negative messages of self-doubt and uncertainty.