Readtime: 6 minutes
‘You can’t do that’ or ‘Who do you think you are?!’
Do you sometimes have these disturbing voices in your head? These voices that tell you that you are not smart enough, not beautiful enough, or basically just not good enough? Pretty irritating, right? And this criticism in your head is not completely innocent either. Because it is disastrous for your self-confidence and before you know it, your life is led by fear of failure.
So why do we have this critical inner voice?
Self-criticism is the sum of all – mostly well-intended- advice you received as a child. With words like ‘do your best at school’ and ‘your hair looks much nicer behind your ears’, relatives, teachers and friends tried to help you move forward in life. And that’s also what that nagging voice wants. It taps you on the fingers if it thinks that you’re doing something wrong and you can do better.
So, self-criticism can have a good side. It can help you perform better and distinguish bad ideas from good ones. How?
Here are 4 tips to turn that inner nag into the most supportive coach
1. ‘Don’t ignore your inner critic’
Imagine that you have a presentation at work or something else that might cause you anxiety. And your inner critic is ringing in your ear, ‘No way, this is SO not your thing’. Instead of ignoring, acknowledge your inner critic. Just ask, ‘Ok inner critic, what are you trying to tell me?’.
Maybe you’re too afraid of failure or you are just not properly prepared. By recognizing this, you can relax and find out if you really don’t want to do it -at this moment- or if a successful presentation just takes a little more extra effort.
2. ‘Make a positive soundbite’
Dim the volume of the negative voice that points out your shortcomings by creating a positive soundbite. A voice that tells you what is right about you. For example, ask a friend to say only nice things about you for 3 minutes. Things like: you have a great imagination, you are eloquent, you move beautifully. Record it or write it down. Very encouraging to hear or read back in uncertain moments.
3. ‘Focus on your goal’
I know criticizing is your job, but must get on with my life now
Learn from your inner critic, but never give it too much power. In other words, despite the noise in your head, focus on your goal. Sending an important message: ‘I’m the boss’. You will find that it is not always relevant what this voice is saying. So, use the advice where necessary, but don’t let it paralyze you.
4. ‘Do the impossible’
Prove your inner critic wrong. In other words, don’t beat yourself up about why something can’t be done, but look for how it can be done. Focus on that. For example, ask, ‘What steps can I take to reach my goal?’. Use that inner dialogue as a learning opportunity.
Use these 4 steps and you will find that the inner critic in your head suddenly becomes your best friend. One that enthusiastically tells you what you excel in and gives advice on how to become an even better and happier version of yourself!