My inner critic (IC) is a negative Nancy. So is yours.
Okay, and if you’re a man (as a reader pointed out after I wrote this post), it’s a negative Ned.
We all have an inner critic and if you say you don’t you’re lying. Our inner critic is the same no matter who we are, and says different versions of the same old crap.
Let me prove it to you. Read these sentences:
I’ll never be as good as (insert name here).
That worked for (insert someone’s name) but it won’t work for me.
I don’t think I can make it.
What if I fail?
I’m not that smart.
I’ll never write like (insert author of your choice here).
Ring any bells? That’s the voice of your inner critic. I told you. Negative. Nancy.
The only purpose of your IC is to keep you in your comfort zone. Your IC thinks it is protecting you from judgment and rejection.
Want to know what your IC is really doing?
It’s resisting change and keeps you from going after your dreams.
Yes, your IC is the reason you doubt yourself.
Have you ever admired the achievements of other people, but downplay your own? Do you procrastinate on things you know you should do to achieve a certain goal? Do you worry about what other people will think of you? Do you think your dream is “silly” or “not realistic?”
Those are all your inner critic talking my friend. And it’s time to shut her (or him) the hell up! Here are a few productive ways to send your IC packing.
Recognize When Your IC is Talking
Be mindful of your thoughts. Any time you hear that little voice in your head trying to sabotage your dreams, stop. Then tell that little voice “I realize that going after what I want is scary, but I’m going to do it anyway.” Say it and mean it. You have to remember that everything you want is outside of your comfort zone. Any time you try to leave that cushy comfort zone, your inner critic starts yapping. That’s her way of saying “don’t leave me! I’ll be lonely.” Leave anyway. You’ll be glad you did.
Take a Break
I write every day. You can’t become great at anything if you don’t practice daily, right? Right. But there are days when I write crap or can’t think of anything to write at all. That’s when my IC comes calling. I’ve named her Sasha because she’s so sassy. Sasha loves criticizing my work-in-progress. She’s an opportunist.
When I get stuck on a writing project, here comes Sasha perching on my shoulder. She starts yammering nonsense like: “that sentence sucks,” or “your story is dumb,” or “you need to give up because no one wants to publish your work.”
That’s when I know it’s time for a break. I save what I’m working on and step away for a bit. Then I say these exact words to Sasha: “You realize this is only my first draft, right? I know it’s not going to be perfect, but that’s what revisions are for.”
Then I get myself moving and change the scenery for a bit. I go in my backyard and play with my chickens, talk to my hubby, hang out with my kids, or go for a drive.
Movement always opens up the creative channels. Before I know it, an idea pops right into my head and gets me unstuck. Then I go back and read my story and get even more ideas and boom. I’m unstuck.
Use Positive Affirmations
This is a big one for me. I find the best weapon against Sasha and her messy ways is to talk to myself in a positive way. If you don’t talk kindly to yourself no one else will, either.
What is an affirmation? I’m glad you asked. They are present-tense statements that are the polar opposite of your negative thoughts. Here are a few of the many I say to myself daily:
I am a successful published author.
Creative ideas flow effortlessly to me.
My writing gets better every day.
My books are well-loved and well-read.
I say these (and many more) to myself daily. I say them before I begin my day. I say them before I go to sleep. Heck, I even downloaded an app called My Affirmations. I write my own affirmations (but it comes with some built-in). Throughout the day I get notifications on my cell phone with various affirmations. I always stop and say them out loud.
Listen, silencing your inner critic is an ongoing thing. So don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t master it right away.
Remember this: it’s the only thing holding you back from going after what you want in life. When you realize that, it loses its power over you. So tell your inner critic “talk to the hand, baby!”
How do you deal with your inner critic? Leave me a note in the comments. I’m always looking for new ways to tell Sasha to “get to steppin’!”