How to Silence Your Inner Critic
As much as we want to be strong, confident women, it’s incredibly difficult to silence our inner critics—you know, the voice inside your head that tells you you can’t do something, or that other people are better or more successful than you. That voice is self-doubt, and sometimes it can be so debilitating that in order to keep you from failing, it keeps you from doing what you need to do to be successful. In an effort to empower women, we researched how to minimize self-doubt. Scroll through if you’re tired of worrying about what others think of you and want to start being your own strongest advocate.
Kiss your self-doubt goodbye by questioning your inner critic. So you think your co-worker doesn’t like you? Instead of feeling uncomfortable at the office, why don’t you ask that co-worker how they feel about working with you? Ask them if there is anything you can do to make it better or more efficient to work together. You can’t assume something negative until you have hard evidence to back it up. You can judge your co-worker’s feelings about you by how they answer those questions. But please remember that in business, we’re not all meant to be best friends. You can work well with someone you aren’t friends with or don’t socialize with outside of the office. So don’t feel worried if your co-worker does come across as curt or cold. They are probably just trying to keep a barrier between their personal and professional lives.
It’s a natural human tendency to worry about how others think of you. One of the best ways to combat your fear of what others think of you is to develop your own story. Think about your passions and how they align with your experience. Think about your goals and how you are setting yourself up to achieve them. For instance, if you’ve had three jobs in the last three years and are worried how that might come across to co-workers or potential employers, think about why you had those three jobs and what you learned from them. Remember why you accepted (and quit) each position and what you learned about yourself along the way. How did those jobs bring you closer to your goals? Or to realizing what your goals actually are? Once you construct your own narrative, your multiple jobs look like the intentional method of a woman who wants to learn a lot and work extremely hard but never settle for something she isn’t passionate about.
If self-doubt creeps up on you toward the end of the day because somehow you’ve managed to add more things to your to-do list than you’ve crossed off, rethink your situation. Think about each of those items you did cross off and be proud of your accomplishments. Each action item on your daily list of must-dos takes longer than expected. Start crushing your inner critic by setting more-realistic deadlines. Then be very impressed with yourself when you manage to be on top of your action items.
The “spotlight effect” is the tendency for individuals to perceive our own weaknesses as more severe than they actually are. “As human beings with egos and an innate self-awareness of our own feelings, actions, and thoughts, we tend to notice and greatly exaggerate our flaws while assuming everyone around us has a microscope focused on faults, mistakes, and slip-ups,” says Melody J. Wilding, a workplace psychology coach and professor of human behavior at The City University of New York Hunter College. The truth is, most people are too preoccupied with their own self-doubts to analyze any of your shortcomings.
One familiar side effect of self-doubt is severe discomfort. In order to lesson this feeling, try putting yourself in uncomfortable situations often in order to dull your response to them. For example, if you hate public speaking, join a toastmasters group so that you're put on the spot frequently. Sure, this experimentation won’t be fun at first, but if you keep doing it, you’ll inevitably learn to live with discomfort in a much more comfortable way and you’ll likely shed some self-doubt in the process.
Media, especially social media, is a blessing and a curse. We love scouring the Internet for information or scrolling our social feeds for inspiration, but media often causes us to judge ourselves against others and be unhappy with our seemingly less successful lives. Take one day and detach yourself from all media. No comparing yourself to everyone on the Forbes "30 Under 30" list, no looking at the It bloggers Instagram or the woman with your dream job’s Twitter feed. Just be with yourself for a day and focus on your own accomplishments.
It’s really easy to identify what we’re bad at. It’s a lot harder to think about yourself and identify things that you are great at. But please, go ahead and take a moment to reflect on where you are an undeniable badass. Sure, there is always more to learn, but take pride in what you’ve already figured out.
Whether it’s Post-It notes on your bathroom mirror, an inspiring quote as your phone wallpaper, or a mood-boosting podcast on your way to work, smother yourself in positivity. The world is filled with enough critics and naysayers, so please don’t be your own. Keep positive and focused on your goals by surrounding yourself with motivating content. We’re currently listening to Ariana Huffington’s Thrive on Audible to make our commutes as rewarding as possible.
Boost your self-esteem by creating goals that you will actually be able to achieve. Follow the SMART technique for goal writing: Be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-oriented. If you stick to this goal-setting technique and follow through with your plan, you will crush every deadline and accomplish every goal you set for yourself.
Slay your self-doubt with some of our favorite confidence-boosting books below.
How do you tackle self-doubt? Share with us in the comments.