Our inner critic can help us create our extraordinary life if we can learn how to manage it.
Learning I was the biggest obstacle to my success was heart-wrenching. Quite honestly, it was a very depressing and pivotal moment in my life’s journey. It forced me to begin listening to my inner critic and begin crafting my new story. Ultimately, the story that would move me to the pinnacle of success in my career. It would become the story that would take me on an exhilarating and totally awesome thrill ride outside my comfort zone. Ultimately, it forced me to create the story that would move me to the pinnacle of success in my career.
Over the course of my journey, it became all too apparent why we (men) fail to leverage our inner critic successfully.
As a male growing up, I don’t remember any long discussions about my IC (Inner Critic.) In fact, I was almost 36 years old when I discovered the term. The concept of an inner critic was something so foreign and challenging I almost dismissed it, summarily. I probably said something like, “This is just more psycho babble.” Thank goodness I have a very strong desire to learn and grow. My desire is the only reason I continued listening and the only reason I am thriving today. Mindfulness frees us to consider the existence and the role of our inner critic.
2. We push our inner critic away.
Who has time to listen to a bunch of crap! Someone or something telling you what you cannot do, shouldn’t do, and why you will fail? Almost reflexively, we react by isolating those events in order to minimize their impact. Take a moment and think of your opinionated friend, grandmother, parent, or mentor. What happens when you isolate them in order to manage the fallout? Almost inevitably, it seems they become more resolute and clamorous. Pushing away the inner critic terminates the growth of our self-awareness. Self-awareness is the first step in leveraging our inner critic.
3. We allow others to write our story.
I never remember thinking I would not crawl, walk, or talk. As a young child, limitations are an entirely foreign concept to us. Those closest to us introduce them into our lives. These introductions manifest themselves in the form of verbal and non-verbal communications. I was maybe ten years old when my mom told me a $100 bill would be more than I would ever earn. Her words created a pivotal foundation in my mindset at a very young age. For years, I would struggle with finances, feverishly spending every dollar I earned because it might be the last dollar I ever earned.
4. We enjoy living in our comfort zone.
The inner critic is like our corporate risk management guru. He tells us what we can or cannot accomplish based on experience. The IC balks at anything and everything related to previous failures or contradictory to past experiences. His warnings become a clarion call to avoidance, or because otherwise we risk impending failure and shame. Eventually, we become comfortable operating within our comfort zone because the IC remains quiet. Our comfort zone becomes a barrier that prevents us from creating our extraordinary life.
5. It hurts too much.
The IC is our personal storyteller. Unlike audio books, these stories don’t cost money, but their price is very steep. They cost us pain that originates from confronting reality. We have to dedicate time and emotional energy to appreciating the incongruities that slowly transition from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind. Now we have to resolve these inconsistencies or become comfortable with imperfection. Personally, in the beginning I believed it was a waste of my time. Why spend so much time and emotional energy drudging through the past? Why? Because our mindset represents the most significant barrier to our success.
6. We are sabotaging ourselves.
I saved the best for last. When we fail to leverage our inner critic, we are wrecking our lives. We are robbing ourselves of synergy that could propel us into the extraordinary life of our dreams. Second by second, minute by minute, day by day we silence the IC a little more. We feel free, we think we feel good, and everything seems great! By necessity, sabotage is shielded from discovery by ignorance. We don’t even realize we are sabotaging ourselves because we lack self-awareness.
Our inner critic should become our closest friend. Our reliable confidant we can always count on. He is the friend that without fail is always by our side no matter what. We simply have to learn how to communicate with him by understanding his role in our lives. Like a physical best friend, we have to nurture the relationship and actively listen. The IC warnings are a loud and clear call to awareness. He wants to help us understand the challenges that lie ahead. We must understand the true nature of these challenges. They’re old stories we have accumulated in our subconscious and get played over and over in our conscious mind.
Our minds are beautifully designed works of art. They are able to help us create our extraordinary life depending on the stories we tell ourselves. Our minds use our stories to form beliefs, beliefs fuel emotions, and emotions affect actions. If we don’t befriend our Inner Critic and change our stories our mindset remains the same.
Will you accept the challenge and befriend your inner critic?