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4 Practices to Tame Your Inner Critic Starting Today

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Given the stress and challenges of this past year, your inner critic may be at a dull roar by now. This harsh internal voice can contribute to “imposter syndrome” or a feeling that you’re not worthy of success. This roommate you would never choose might sound something like this: “I’m not doing anything well,” “I’m not as smart as my colleagues and not equipped for this job,” “I should be further along in my career; I’m stagnating,” “That person is so together,” “I am overwhelmed!” And as you listen to this inner voice, you may be thinking you are the only one in the world wired this way. The truth is, you are not alone.

As human beings, we are in a never-ending internal conversation with ourselves. The average person has 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. About 80% are negative, and 95% are repetitive from the day before. We catastrophize. We add drama. We add unnecessary significance. 

But despite the amount of automatic negativity, there is good news! The good news is you do not have to be permanently stuck with this awful roommate delivering non-stop cruel commentary. You can choose your thoughts and change the narrative. (Audible sigh of relief!) Get started taming your inner critic today, and take back control with the following four practices.

Practice 1 – Clear Power Outages

Everyone experiences a temporary loss of power or confidence triggered by unmet expectations, mistakes, breakdowns, conflicts, and other people. Some power outages are small, while others can feel like a city-wide grid failure on New Year’s Eve. It can be extremely difficult to function during a power outage, causing you to spiral, and then spiral some more. Fortunately, the severity and time spent in these power outages can be drastically decreased with our three-step model. 

  1. Take three deep breaths. 
  2. Find a person you trust to talk through the power outage. Make sure this person understands they are there to give you the opportunity to be heard and not problem solve/give advice. When you share all the details out loud, it will be cathartic and mitigate the drama while trapped in your head.
  3. Decide when you can let it go. Determine what actions you can take to help yourself reset.  

Practice 2 – Choose a New Story

People continually tell themselves disempowering stories — about their circumstances, themselves, and others. Then, we go about collecting evidence to prove ourselves right.

In my 30s, when I was in corporate America, I was layered under a new manager as a result of a reorg. This change was a complete shock and disappointment. I was angry. I thought the new manager did not like me and did not value my contributions. I thought it would never work.

During the next few weeks, I collected evidence supporting this belief — all of the reasons why this was a mistake and why I should not be reporting to him. I got screwed, and this manager was not right for me. After weeks of suffering, losing sleep, and venting with a select few about how I was feeling trapped and unmotivated, my husband finally asked me in a calm supportive way, “Am I going to have to listen to this every night or do you plan to get a new job?” 

That was a wake-up call. I didn’t want a new job. I appreciated my team, my clients, my compensation and upward potential. But currently, my sleep, job satisfaction, and sanity were on the line! I realized the cost of this negative story was steep. This could not go on any longer, but I didn’t want to make a career change. It was then I talked to my closest friend Wendy (Fast Forward co-founder) who gave me valuable counsel — I could either continue down this path, or I could choose a new story and be happy.

“If you gave your inner genius as much credence as your inner critic, you would be light years ahead of where you now stand.” – Alan Cohen

I chose the new story: “I can learn from every manager.” This new story provided me with a new lens to look through, which led me to take actions I would not have otherwise taken. 

I sought out my manager’s council on challenges, and, to my surprise, he was helpful. I set up breakfasts with him to get to know him personally and found he was not so bad, after all. I made recommendations to improve the business and culture, and he listened! Within months, I had evidence for the new story and was thriving at work and home. 

You, too, can choose a new story using our simple three-step process: 

  1. What is your negative story?
  2. What is the cost of believing the story? Understand the cost of believing in that story and how it is holding you back from progress and happiness.
  3. What is another story you can choose? Choose a new story that empowers you to move forward. 

Since we are often attached to our stories, it is quite valuable to get input from someone you trust like I did! The powerful practice of choosing a new story allows you to have an outlook that fuels you. You can choose to be right, or you can choose to be happy. 

Practice 3 – Run Your Own Race 

This expression comes from thoroughbred horse racing — jockeys put blinders on their horses so they focus on the track ahead and not the horse to the left and right. This is a powerful metaphor!  Comparing yourself to others is often disempowering and focuses you on what you don’t have versus what you do.  

Put your energy toward running your own race, so you can focus on your strengths and be your personal best. Here are some recommendations to do this: 

  1. Limit scrolling through social media: The phrase Instagram versus reality exists for a reason. Spending hours in a rabbit hole of the cultivated image of people’s lives and adventures does not move you closer to your goals.
  2. Focus on your strengths: Practice a glass half full attitude. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, make a list of the valuable things you contribute — at work, personally and in the world! 
  3. Shift envy to admiration: If you see someone advancing more quickly in their career, reach out to them for advice. Ask them to be your mentor. Tell them they are a role model to you. You never know what those conversations can lead to for your personal and professional growth. 

Practice 4 – Journal Daily 

This simple practice takes only six minutes a day and creates a huge impact. Journaling is proven to help people sleep better, lower stress and improve confidence and relationships. 

  • Every morning, write down three things you are grateful for. 
  • Every evening, write down three things that you are proud of and/or did well that day. 

While there are many things in life we can’t control, you CAN control your inner critic.  Start using these four practices today. You have one life — you are worth it. 

Lisa McCarthy is the CEO and co-founder of The Fast Forward Group, a training and coaching company that gives people a proven system to think big, manage stress and achieve success and fulfillment in their whole life. They work with the world’s most innovative companies including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and JPMorgan Chase who believe when people are living their best life, they do their best work. Prior to starting Fast Forward, Lisa spent 25 years leading sales organizations at prominent media companies, including ViacomCBS and Univision. She experienced the toll of high-pressure workplaces where people feel professional success requires personal sacrifice. She and co-founder, Wendy Leshgold, set out to challenge this and through their vision, created Fast Forward Group. Lisa was named a “Woman to Watch”' by Advertising Age and Crain’s New York “Business 40 Under 40.” Fast Forward hosts a free Bold Vision Workshop with Lisa and Wendy monthly. 

Life

A Simple but Effective Technique to Be More Confident

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Many people want to learn how to be confident in different situations, but it’s not always easy. Maybe we’re too addicted to comparing ourselves or maybe social media has brainwashed us to believe that we should all be rich, famous, and in incredible shape. (more…)

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Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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