The inner critic has two voices. One is the voice that criticizes others (if only they did…, if only he said…, she should really…). The other is the one we use to critique ourselves (you don’t…, you should…, you aren’t…). Our inner critic is rooted in both shame and grandiosity, we bounce between the two, and neither is helpful or more importantly, effective.
I know this because I struggle with my inner critic every day. And that’s why “Managing Your Inner Critic” was the focus of my keynote speech at the Women in Leadership Institute™ and why I work so hard to help leaders overcome their inner critics.
Learning how to manage our inner critic is the first step to engaging fully. Managing ourselves as women is so important because women are busy—kids at school, an elderly parent, everything we’re managing at work, whatever is competing for attention. At any given moment, I have 13 burners on high heat and I’m bouncing all over the place in my own mind about how I’m showing up in all of these areas.
Strive to be imperfect
The prevailing challenge that women face—whether we know it or not, whether we admit it or not—is perfectionism. I want to show up and be great at work. (I want to engage!) And we’ve never had more opportunities open to us. So how do we navigate these choices? Sometimes, we’re going to actually have to say no. And we’re going to have to disappoint others. And we’re going to have to be okay with that.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to squelch the inner critic. Even though I sometimes feel like my inner critic is a pest and I just want it to go away, the fact is that our inner critic can be very informative. But we do have to manage it—and that is a practice. I believe that coaching our inner critic can bring about more success and happiness than just about anything else we can do.
Is your inner critic holding you back? Have you found inner-critic-management techniques that work for you? Share your challenges and triumphs with us in the comments below.