Own Your Story Mindset Series: #2 Your Worst Critic
It's no secret that many of us play small because we fear criticism. Nobody likes being rejected or made to feel inferior... I know that tackling self-doubt and a lack of confidence is a beast. For some of us, these self-beliefs are deeply rooted.
That said, I'll give you one guess who is likely to be your greatest critic of all...
...if you guessed yourself, you are not alone. Many of us are our own worst critics.
Want to know a way to help start digging up those deep roots of self-doubt? If you've been following along with me for some time you probably already know what I am going to say, but I'll say it anyway - storytelling.
Many of us have foundational beliefs that we developed from an early age that has shaped the lens through which we view our story. Stick with me, friends, this is going to get deep.
My amazing mom is a professional at a Community College in my home town. Dr. Robin Chaddock teaches a student success course for first year college students. This course is one of the first classes a student takes during their college career and is a requirement because it helps set the stage for expectations, skills, and beliefs that will help determine whether a student will be successful or fail.
Much of the course is all about scripts - the beliefs we have formed about ourselves that lead us to think and act a certain way. I grew up learning about the power of scripts and I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you now.
Scripts are formed as a result of how we view our stories, but they are not set in stone.
Most importantly, you need to know it is possible to re-write your script. Before we start "editing" our scripts, we must first look at the current draft we are working with. This can be broken down into three ways in which we talk to ourselves.
1. The Inner Critic
2. The Inner Defender
3. The Inner Guide
The Inner Critic
“A loud, voluble critic is enormously toxic. He is more poisonous to your psychological health than any trauma or loss. That’s because grief and pain wash away with time. But the critic is always with you - judging, blaming, finding fault.” Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning
The inner critic is an internal voice that tells us that we are inadequate, less than, and unworthy. It can come from the judgments you experienced as a child and a teenager. In fact, sometimes the criticism is simply a replay of a specific comment that was made to you that you now adopt as your truth. The voice can also come from years of hearing others criticize themselves. Seeing self-criticism modeled makes us believe we need to pick ourselves apart too. Hearing others judge themselves for certain qualities that we may also possess or identify might make us question and criticize those qualities as well.
It is important to note that these voices come from a place of protection. The intention isn’t necessarily meant to harm, but to keep ourselves from attempting something, being something, feeling something, or saying something that might bring us judgment from the outside world.
“Better to judge ourselves too harshly than to have someone else judge us,” we think. But as Elbert Hubbard says in his book,”To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
I’m here to tell you, that is not an option for you and your story.
The Inner Defender
The Inner Defender is also an attempt at, well, defending ourselves. However, this voice shifts the criticism to others. The Inner Defender places the responsibility for their unhappiness on the shoulders of other people - parents, teachers, friends, politicians, etc.
This voice does not want to claim responsibility for why life is the way it is and comes from a place of blame. The Inner Defender attempts to build ourselves up by tearing others down. This voice convinces us that our problems are external and, thus, removes our control over them.
The Inner Defender never writes his/her own story but places it at the feet of others. Again, this voice really does have good intentions and wants to protect us from unpleasant feelings and emotions.
But in the end, this voice also does us more harm than good.
The Inner Guide
The Inner Guide is the voice we need to be listening to. This is the voice that doesn’t judge because it knows that criticism inhibits real growth, change, and action. This voice seeks options and makes choices rather than blames and complains. This voice looks to find the best in ourselves and others and empowers us to rise beyond negativity.
How can you start listening to the voice of your Inner Guide more and the Inner Critic/Inner Defender less? It takes consciousness, self-awareness, and practice. Next time you feel yourself shrinking or shifting blame onto another, ask yourself why and actively ARGUE with that critic. (You can actually do this out loud if it helps, but maybe avoid arguing with yourself in public... just a suggestion.)
Ultimately, our inclination to listen to critics is a survival instinct.
Critics and defenders can be harsh voices but the truth is we need to give ourselves a little grace and recognize that these voices' intentions are pure: to protect us...
But that doesn’t mean we need to listen. Life doesn’t only happen in safe spaces.
Take chances. Make mistakes. Fall flat. But stop submitting to the voices that keep you from growing into the person you’re meant to be. Stop submitting to the critics (inner or outer) that tell you to keep quite and play small and sit pretty in the corner so you don’t rock any boats or take any risks.
Please, listen to the voice asking you to make that call, send that email, write that post, take the chance. TELL YOUR STORY. Let your true self win today.
All the best,