We’ve all been brought low by our inner critic at one time or another. That voice inside that tells us we aren’t good enough, focusing on our flaws and setting unrealistically high standards to set us up for failure. This voice often has way too much power over us. That is because we tend to confuse our perspective with fact. Our beliefs about ourselves are so closely and intimately held that it can be hard to see them for what they really are; momentary experiences that are a part of who we are, but do not define the totality of who we are.
They are not the facts of us. Just occasional circumstances.
Quite often this is because we are focusing on one thing (usually one thing that didn’t go as we had hoped, expected or worked for). For example, polishing up our resume, perhaps getting some vocational coaching, going on several interviews, and still not getting any job offers. Our inner critic might whisper “I’m a failure”, “I can’t do anything right”, “I’m just not good enough” or “It was stupid to try, I looked like an idiot”.
Additionally, we might also get an attack of the dreaded should.
You know, the “I should have gotten a different degree”, “I should have focused more”, “I should have offered to be more flexible or take a lower salary” or “I never should have bothered”.
The biggest problem at the root of all these thoughts is that they are exclusionary. They focus on one negative experience and use it to define who we are, on a deep level. We disregard all the accomplishments, all the strengths and all the skills we actually have.
When you find yourself listening to that inner critic, try to ask yourself these three questions:
1. What are some tasks I’ve succeeded in?
2. What are some positive choices I’ve made?
3. Does this experience take away from those accomplishments?
We will all experience set-backs and disappointments in our lives, but taking that as evidence that we are less than worthy, wonderfully complex and talented individuals is a mistake I believe is important to avoid at all costs.