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How to Fight Your Inner Critic

It seems that we all have a small voice in our head, bullying us around, making us think we’re not good enough. This voice is convincing. It seems to reach into our heart and convince us rationally and emotionally that our work isn’t that great, or our body is ugly, or we’re a failure. 

Am I the only one with an inner critic?

If you find your inner critic beating you up on a weekly, daily, or moment-by-moment basis, you need to know…it’s not normal. It’s not normal to second-guess yourself. It’s not normal to feel like a failure at work. It’s not normal to think you’re nothing special. It’s NOT normal that your inner critic is taking your joy while leaving you with a messy, self-conscious, fearful, and lousy view of who you are. 

Everyone deals with an abusive inner critic. The real question is how can we combat it, and become the person we’re meant to be.

Let’s find a few ways that we can fight, take back our joy, and learn to fight our inner critic.

1. Recognize your inner critic

Sounds simple, but not many of us are even aware we have an inner critic. It’s almost as if our inner critic is a soft background noise that’s easy to ignore. Try paying attention to how you react to certain things or situations. Do you get anxious when you see a specific person? Are you nervous when you enter a situation and find yourself having a raised heart rate and difficulty concentrating? Think on why you’re reacting that way. Those emotions that come out of you are clues as to what your inner critic is saying and when. Pay attention to them.

2. Just do it

It turns out that Nike didn’t coin the concept of "Just Do It." Vincent Van Gogh once said, "If you hear a voice within you saying you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." Action can be an effective force against your inner critic. It’s what we do in times of difficulty that make us who we are. If we shrink in fear when our inner critic raises it’s ugly head, we won’t move anywhere. We’ll stay stuck. Instead, ask yourself, "What’s one thing I’m not doing because I don’t believe in myself?" Write it down, share it with others for accountability, and just do it! Slay the ugly critic that resides in you by using action.

3. Lean into failure

As it turns out, failure is one of the greatest teachers. There is a story of a young IBM executive who made a bad decision and cost his company millions of dollars. When he was called into his boss’s office, he sat down and immediately said, "I suppose after that huge mistake you’ll want to fire me." His boss replied, “Not at all, young man, we have just spent a couple million dollars educating you.” Failure is a tool to learning, thus leaning into failure will produce more for you then cowering in fear.

4. Celebrate yourself

Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. When’s the last time you stepped back, looked at your work, relationship or situation and simply thought, "Wow, I did a good job"? It’s not often that people celebrate their success, even if it’s small. But looking at your progress is crucial in fighting your inner critic. 

If you’re like me, though, you'll always have the mentality that it’s never good enough, that it could always be better. Although that might be true, it still doesn’t eliminate the fact that you’ve made progress. So stop, breath in, observe your progress, and celebrate you! If you don’t celebrate, you’ll never learn how to fight the inner critic inside you.

5. Listen to the truth from others

It’s sad that we focus more on negative things said about us then positive. It’s estimated that in order to make up for one negative thing said to us, we need to hear between 55-70 positive things about us. That’s insane! The temptation to fixate on the one negative thing is greatly present in all of us because that’s exactly what your inner critic wants. It wants affirmation that its cruel, sick and twisted thoughts about you are true. But most likely, they’re not true. 

Listening to the positive things others say about you will help you fight your inner critic. Have you ever had someone compliment you on your work, stopped to tell you how beautiful you look, or how incredibly caring you are? People everyday are trying to tell you how awesome you are. Take a moment to listen, and let what they say fill you up! Jesus said it best when he said, "The truth will set you free."

Grab your weapons and go to war! Use these tips to fight your inner critic. If you don’t start fighting now, you’ll live a life sapped of joy. You’re worth the fight!