The Twin Within: Your Inner Critic & You

Today’s corporate professionals find themselves in a quandary. Even when they’re competent, highly-qualified and productive, they are compelled to feel like they’re not doing enough. Even worse, such insecurity can convince the individual that they’re ‘not enough’ as a worker, or as a person, which is a major contributor to personal stress. The “Keeping up with the Joneses” effect can be thought of as the cumulative result of two very modern life circumstances: social media overload (including FOMO), and having grown up in the trophy age….you know, when you receive a trophy for being on the 9th-place team. These things can surely do a number on our self-esteem before we’re even aware it’s happening.

Last week I suggested that you’re not alone in enduring self-imposed workplace stress. Again, I invite you to look around and observe how confident and competent your coworkers are. Sure, they appear to be put-together on the outside. But there’s a universal “twin” living inside each of us, whose job it is to keep us from realizing our true potential. It’s called the inner critic, and it must be understood before it can be tamed.

Meet The Voice In Your Head

Let me introduce you to your inner critic. She is on the job 24/7 and adds great self-imposed stress to your life. She inserts the emotions of fear and self-doubt into much of what you do, and fogs your thinking. Left undisciplined, she is capable of convincing you that your work is inferior and worth far less than that of your colleagues. Do you recognize her now?

Keep in mind that, as I mentioned before, you are not alone. Just consider the participant poll results from many of DRIVEN’s workshops, which reveal that their inner critics are alive and consistently pestering them, with no “off” switch. I even discovered my own inner critic 20 years ago, in a random self-condemning moment. I literally said out loud, “You’ve got to stop yelling at me, I can’t hear myself think”. I instantly realized that the critic was in charge, but I didn’t know how to demote her.

With our inner critics possessing so much power over our lives, how can we focus on our careers unless we actively muscle-in and learn to manage them? The first step, I’m proud to assert, is to acknowledge that pesky critic. Try listening to what she’s yapping about, and assess what is true vs what is default thinking. Or as one colorful lyricist once put it, “Find her blinder, see who designed her.”

Brand Her A Fool

The first powerful step toward reclaiming authority over your inner critic is to give her a name. This separate identity distinguishes her from you, and helps you become mindful of when she’s around. For instance, there used to be stretches of time when my inner critic was perpetually yelling at me, and I didn’t even know it was happening. By naming her (Eve), I can now spot her and engage her in a dialogue. This move was inspired by my friend and colleague Dr. Keila Tyner, who wrote in an article about the inner critic in April of 2016:

“When we see our inner critic as separate from the self, we can gain more clarity and see it for what it is, which is often our self-imposed punishment for not being perfect. In reality, no one is perfect….perfect is when you are dead!.”

Closing The Deal

Once you’ve named your inner critic, you’ll have a few more choices to make and personal transformations to explore before you can assume control over her. In my very next posting, I will provide more enlightenment about her inner workings, and reveal to you the solutions that work. Here’s a little teaser: Your inner critic can sometimes be right!