Each of us has that little voice in our heads telling us that we’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. Sometimes our inner critic sounds a whole lot like our own voice. Other times, it seems to be channeling someone from our past: a parent, teacher, or playground bully. No matter who it sounds like, though, it has one objective—to keep things from changing. Silencing the inner critic can be a very tough thing to do.
Sure, the inner critic may come across as caring. That voice doesn’t want you to be hurt or disappointed when things don’t work out your way. Isn’t it easier not to try something than to do it and fail miserably? The voice lulls you into a false sense of security by maintaining the status quo. Some suggest that it’s biologically hardwired that way, in fact. Humans are typically more comfortable with the familiar than with trying something new, and the inner critic helps to keep equilibrium.
Of course, most of us don’t really want equilibrium. Where’s the excitement in that? How does that help you grow as a person or reach your goals? The short answer is that it doesn’t. To get ahead, you need to figure out how to kill your inner critic, and the sooner you do it, the better.
What’s the Worst that Could Happen?
To kill your inner critic, allow yourself to imagine the worst-case scenario. What is the worst thing that could happen if you make an attempt at this new thing? Chances are, it wouldn’t actually be that bad. We get so hung up on worrying about not doing something “well enough,” that we totally overlook the fact that it might not be that big of a deal.
Based on the worst possible outcome, you can decide with a clearer head if you should proceed. If your plan has a good chance of injuring someone or wiping out your finances, then it might need some refinement. If, on the other hand, the worst thing that will happen is that you’ll get a little egg on your face, that might not be too big of a price to pay in contrast to the potential payoff of exploring something new.
Give Yourself Permission to Fail
One of the biggest hang-ups most of us have when it comes to trying new things is the fact that we might fail at it. In addition to our possible genetic pre-disposition to avoid change, failure brings with it a variety of uncomfortable feelings, the biggest of which is fear. We fear proving ourselves to be inadequate. We fear looking foolish instead of others. Oftentimes, we even fear success.
Now that you’ve imagined the worst and given your inner critic all the ammunition it needs to use against you, it’s time to shrug your shoulders and say, “So what?” The simple act of giving yourself permission to fail can be more than enough to shut that voice down. Even if it does pipe up, it doesn’t hold any power at this point. If it tells you you’re going to fail, you can smile and know that you’ve already accepted that possibility and are good with it.
But, your failure is certainly not a foregone conclusion. In the end, you’ll have far more successes than failures. This also helps to kill the inner critic because each time you provide this “proof” of success, you’re shutting down its warnings and worries. Absolutely remember to also give yourself permission to succeed!
Learning how to kill your inner critic is all about putting it in its place. If we listen too closely to that voice, we end up thwarting our own development and potential. One of the best ways to put an end to the criticism is to recognize it for what it is, and to go ahead and move forward anyway. When you recognize the worst that can happen and give yourself permission to fail, you’ve taken the power from the inner critic and put it back where it belongs.