Defeating your inner critic
She crossed her arms, leaned back, forced a smile and rolled her eyes. In a recent meeting of Susan’s, it was clear the other party didn’t agree and was offended by what Susan had just said. Just witnessing what seems like someone’s judgment of us can put our inner critic on high alert. It can also set off an extremely unproductive inner dialogue: “Seriously? She thinks she knows more about this issue than I do?” Of course, that only makes things worse, as you feel more critical of the other person and yourself. The inner critic can be subtle and blatant, whispering yet loud. But once you become aware of it, you’ll see just how swift, harsh, righteous and at times toxic these voices can be.
This is because our inner critic is fuelled by the simultaneous belief that we are better than others and that we are less than others; both feelings are energised by harshness and contempt. Feeling that we’re not enough – especially at work—is painful. And while feeling superior to others can feel good on the surface, it leads to a damaging loss of loyalty in relationships. It limits our ability to learn and grow. It also skews our ability to make sound decisions, puts the people we work with on guard and erodes engagement, trust and honesty.
You don’t need to be a leadership guru to see that those are not qualities high performing leaders usually exhibit. Here are three steps you can take to disarm the inner critic and its troubling consequences...