Have you ever felt invincible one day only to wake up feeling like a complete failure the next? Ever started out confident with a new goal or creative project, only to notice the ol' negative voice stripping you of all confidence, banging on about how you can't do it, that you might as well quit or how you're not as good as 'those others' and you'll never make it?
If so, it's likely self-criticism and your inner critic is in need of some serious attention.
On A List Apart, author and speaker Denise Jacobs beautifully outlines a master plan for how to quiet your inner critic and stop self-criticism in order to be more creative, have more confidence and dare to take more risks and follow your dreams. Denise's ideas align perfectly with the concept behind the Dailygreatness Journals especially when she says:
If you’ve been battling the inner critic for years, you're doin’ it wrong. Ignoring the critic doesn’t work—it will only make it more devious and insistent. Trying to strong-arm and exert your will over it will do the same. You’ll need to equip yourself with a combination of willingness combined with some tried-and-true methods to turn down the volume.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Shift Your Thinking & Focus
The goal is to eliminate the habit of letting that voice wear you down and to replace it with a new way of thinking that will build you back up.
Remold Your Brain
Thankfully, the brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity works in your favor. When you think different thoughts, you create new pathways. You begin to train your brain to alter its bioelectric habit-trail, essentially changing its response to situations by generating different thoughts. This, in effect, consciously changes the way you think and literally creates a whole new mindframe. You will find that simply having a willingness to dabble in thought that is neither negative nor overly self-critical remolds your brain into thinking differently about what you’ve done, who you are now, and what you are capable of doing.
Go For Good Instead of Superlative
You may also want to consider lowering your expectations for what you’ll achieve. Sometimes “done” is the most perfect anything has to be. Late, undone, or constantly changing rarely passes muster any way you slice it. If you look objectively at the doomsday prophecies that your inner critic is incessantly blathering about concerning the consequences of less-than-perfect performance, you’ll usually find that they are patently untrue. The earth will not stop spinning on its axis, nor will any puppies die if you don’t do something “perfectly.” Take a deep breath, exhale, and get it done. Oftentimes, “done” by definition, is “good.”
Rev-Up Your Empathy
Shifting your focus away from yourself to others is a great way to quiet the voice of the inner critic if not silence it completely. When you empathize with the person you’re helping, you put yourself in their shoes. You seek to experience the discomfort that they’re experiencing to both better understand the problem, and see the range of appropriate solutions more clearly. If you’re a strategist of any sort—you probably already use this approach.
Enter: Creative Confidence
Making your inner critic take a back seat allows for creative confidence to take its rightful place in the forefront of your psyche. You know that, regardless of the situation, you have the creative tools and the ability to push forward and come up with good ideas, and then to see if it they are workable or not.
For some, especially the creative amongst us, it can be relentless hard work overcoming the negative and sometimes convincing voice of our inner critic. We need to be vigilant and not let it take over our lives if we want to grow and have the confidence to pursue our creative ideas, to reach for our dreams and to uncover our potential.
So next time your inner critic highjacks your mind with unproductive, unloving, unkind or uncreative thoughts, read Denise's advice and make the decision to silence your inner critic once and for all.