LESSON 1: MAking FRIENDS WITH YOUR INNER CRITIC

 
 

AUDIO VERSION

You know the feeling - you really want to do that talk, launch that blog or make a pitch at that important networking event - but your inner critic says it’s just not going to happen... 

Sometimes negative self-talk can stop you dead. There’s a reason for that... In evolutionary terms, your inner critic is there to keep you safe. But staying safe and effective self-promotion don’t tend to go hand in hand. 

The psychological mechanism that puts us into fight, flight or freeze mode is on standby all the time – and it’s not just big obvious conscious threats that trigger it. Our system is hard-wired to avoid risk – and that can stop us from taking even small risks. As soon as we start to feel anxious it’s all too easy to put things off or grind to a halt.

The trick is to recognise the signs and remind ourselves a) that these feelings are normal and b) we can work with them.

Often we feel most anxious about the exact thing that we most need to do next.

So the level of anxiety can be an indicator that we are just about to do something right!
 

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Dealing with fears

Don't battle with your fears - observe them. It's easier to live with familiar things. When you start feeling fearful or anxious in any given situation, pay attention. Take time to get to know all the sensations that go with your reaction to that situation.

Make friends with your fears.

Becoming familiar with the physical symptoms of the fear allow you separate out the symptoms (which you can learn to live with) from the event itself. Then when the panic rises in the future you can remind yourself that it’s the symptoms of the challenge that are unpleasant, not the thing itself.
 

Naming and reframing

This is a process whereby we consciously identify and give a name to recurrent unhelpful thought patterns. Once you have given a name to a recurring thought, "Oh! This is my fear of public speaking thing coming up again", it becomes easier to separate yourself from that thing and begin to work with it.

  • Can you name your recurring unhelpful thoughts?

  • What name can you give to each of them?

  • How might we strategise for, seek help with or deal with these differently?
     

Impostor syndrome

You are not alone – we all suffer from impostor syndrome at one point or another. In fact, the smarter and more self-aware you are, the more likely you are to suffer from it. The best tactics to reduce it are:

  • Get 360 feedback from people you trust.
  • Remember and give yourself credit for all you past successes (see below)
  • Journal your successes, however small, on a daily basis.
 

CHALLENGE: THE REVERSE TIMELINE

  • THE REVERSE TIMELINE

    Imagine that you are taking a walk back in time and as you go back year by year, try to remember all the peak experiences and successes that you have had,at work or in life, along the way. Jot each one of them down going back as far as you feel comfortable.

This is an exercise in remembering all your ‘best bits’.

Download and print off the worksheet. Or use your favourite note-taking equipment. There are two ways of doing this – on your own or with a friend who wants to do it too.  

Imagine that you are taking a walk back in time and as you go back year by year, try to remember all the peak experiences and successes that you have had, at work or in life, along the way. Jot each one of them down going back as far as you feel comfortable.

Then, walk slowly back to the present evaluating each of the experiences you have noted down. What skills, knowledge, experience or strengths were in play in each one of those positive experiences? 

Can you bring some of those things back into the present with you and use them in whatever is coming next?

We forget sometimes, just how much good stuff our past holds.

Time to get working. Download the worksheet and map our your reverse timeline.