Dealing With Your Internal Critic
I am often my own worst enemy. I bet you are the same.
Whether it’s evaluating how I delivered a training, gave a keynote speech or how I look in a video or picture, I have this tendency to judge myself or my performance way too harshly.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
I think much of it has to do with the stories we tell ourselves. We get so caught up in our desire to be accepted by others, we begin judging ourselves through other people’s lenses; whether we know their perception to be true or not.
Oh how our fickle little minds like to jack with us don’t they?
Perhaps it’s that member of the audience that seems bored as we give our remarks from the stage. We immediately tell ourselves we’re boring that person so my content and delivery must suck. When in fact they may be sleepy from a heavy lunch. Tony Robins couldn’t wake that lady out of her rubber chicken coma.
Maybe it’s that slight roll of the eyes when we share a new idea with a coworker for an upcoming project. We tell ourselves that our idea is dumb and we’re an over-inflated know-it-all wind bag that should just shut up and wait for someone else to come up with an idea. No, that coworker is just jealous they aren’t nearly as brilliant or as brave as you to share an idea of such ginormous proportions. They really want to be you when they grow up.
Oh that photo I posted on Instagram made my head look huge. Like Donald Trump “Huuuugggeee!” That must be why no one liked it. I’m fat, uninteresting and no one likes me. Who do I think I am posting anything on a site filled with nothing but good-looking people? The reality is something like 5,000 pictures are uploaded on Instagram a second. Maybe your stunning picture didn’t yet show up in your follower’s feed yet! Relax. Oh and your head is “normal” size.
The merry-go-round of our internal thinking can be a dangerous thing. Especially when we use other people’s perceptions to form our own.
A good friend and fellow coach once shared with me a great bit of advice. In every question or statement, we must ask ourselves: is it fact or is it an assumption? When we force ourselves to qualify how we arrived at the conclusion and can validate through that qualifier, our perspective can shift greatly. We find a lot of what we assume as fact is simply made up stories in our head. Stories which couldn’t be further from the truth or reality.
For example, the lady in the audience that I thought might hate my presentation, that was not the case at all. She was literally just sleepy after a really heavy lunch.
How do I know this?
Shortly after I spoke she contacted me about speaking for her organization at several events she was holding around the country. In 2016 she was responsible for nearly 50% of my bookings all because she loved my presentation so much! See, the story I told myself from the stage wasn’t true at all.
Why am I writing this today? Because I think all of us have a harsh critic inside that works against us. We spend way too much time worrying about how other people will perceive us and that in turn affects how we perceive ourselves. Too many of us allow the internal stories and harsh criticism of ourselves to paralyze us or allow circumstances to make us feel bad. These fill in the blank stories we tell ourselves eat us like a cancer, undermining our confidence and taking away from our experiences.
Think about the last time you had something big happen in your life. Did you experience it through the reality of the situation or did you allow your mind to tell you stories about how you thought other people thought it went?
The internal critic is our own worst enemy. When we allow it to control us it will undermines and works against us every single time.
So, next time you are tempted to let your perception take over and you begin to experience those feeling of self-doubt, ask yourself – is it fact or is it an assumption? Then tell your harsh internal critic to sit down and shut up. You’re too busy to listen to that nonsense. Homie ain’t got no time for that!