tips for quieting your inner critic

I often speak to women about how to deal with external criticism, much of it gender specific. What I have found is that most women find it even harder to quiet their own internal critic. You know, the soundtrack in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, doing enough.

The paradox of the inner critic is that it attacks and undermines you in order to protect you from the shame of failure. Trying to quiet your inner critic is like a muscle, you must exercise it and you have to work at it. I recently read a study that said a women says 20 negative things to herself before she even leave the house in the morning… 20!!! With these tips, I will help you find small ways to quiet that nasty internal voice and let you shine.

1. Get yourself a Cheerleader—Do you have a friend, colleague, sister, husband who is always singing your praises? If not, you need to get one…or even better several. Every women should have people in her life (men and women) who think she is fantastic. You need your own cheer squad to remind you of how great you are. This is your tribe, your board of directors, your squad. These are the people who shout louder than the voice in your head. My husband is a great example of this, he often tells me that, “if I could see myself the way other people do that I would rule the world.” I also have several friends and colleagues who celebrate every little success with me.

2. Get out of Your Own Head- Talk to other women about what you are feeling. The inner critic feeds on shame in the darkness. Many of us are so sure that we are the only ones who feel less than or that we are the only ones struggling to be 100% to everyone. If you start talking to other women about where you feel like you are falling short, you will realize you are not alone and that you are being too hard on yourself.

3. Keep Track of Your Success-We all have difficult jobs and demanding lives, somedays they will get you down and take more from you than you have to give. However, if you keep track of all of your praises and refer to it often, you will begin to quiet that inner negative soundtrack. I recommend that you keep a file folder of all the “good job” emails, the client kudos, the awards, the “thank you for a job well done” notes. Not only will this help you shut down the hater in your head, but bonus…it will help you when you have to prepare your self-evaluation or year-end review.

4. Abandon Fear-Fear is a powerful driver for women. Fear often keeps women from speaking up, it also keeps them in relationships and jobs that they don’t love, because they are afraid of change and failure. I encourage women to consider what they would do if they weren’t afraid. Talk about it out loud as mentioned in Tip #2. When you abandon fear, you will be able to find your voice, your passion and hopefully trust it.

5. Redefine Failure-As cliché as it sounds, you have to redefine failure. Your fear of failing is what your inner critic feeds on. If you can redefine failure as a stepping stone to success or a way to help focus your passion, it won’t seem so scary. As women, we are so afraid of showing any weakness or sense of failure. In most instances, what your inner voice tells you is a failure is actually part of the path to bigger and better things.

Know that no one has a 100% success rate, in fact, many of the men and women defined as sports’ greatest have a 33% success rate!

6. Be a Mentor/Sponsor for Someone Else: One of the best ways to quiet the inner critic is to help someone else. Not only will it make you feel good about yourself, but you will find that the gratitude you receive will make the inner critic quiet down. You will realize that you are someone else’s cheerleader, that someone else cares about your opinion, your praise. As such, you can’t be as bad as that “little voice” tells you, instead you are a force to be reckoned with, followed and believed in.

Now, I want you to take these tips and tomorrow morning practice quieting that voice. Be nice to yourself and do your best to get out of the house without saying something mean to yourself. And then try again the next day, and the next. Hopefully, it will become easier and you will notice that the voice is not so vocal and that you aren’t being so hard on yourself.


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