I have come to accept that we all struggle with letting your inner critic sabotage your efforts. It sneaks in at the most inopportune time; when you’re already feeling bad, when you realize you’ve made a mistake, when you feel scared or uncertain. And it pulls the thread of that tension exacerbating your negative feelings…
I just spoke with a client about this very problem the other day. He was feeling pretty down and out. He recently became aware of some pretty serious blunders in his business and was struggling to reconcile his feelings. “I should know better!”
He made an honest mistake. Sure, it was avoidable, most mistakes are. But it wasn’t catastrophic to his business, not yet at least…still, he was struggling to regain his composure, instead he was losing confidence and getting easily distracted.
These are critical moments. Learning opportunities. The second you realize, I could have, should have, would have done better or different, you enter a threshold. You can either pass into a space of learning or a space of self-flagellation.
It’s easy to become overly self-critical and sink into despair. I’ve done it. I’ve been there. Letting an honest mistake tear me apart. Instead of living, learning and moving on, I wallowed. I berated myself. Speaking in ways to myself like I never, ever would to a client or a friend.
I have learned that the quicker I can recover from these instances the better off I am. These moments still happen. They will always happen. But if I can acknowledge the mistake, be aware of the story I am making up and capture what it is I need to do to differently then I can move past the icky, sticky, no good self-talk that just holds me back. And of course, my favorite place to do this is in my journal!
So the next time you make a mistake and get stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk. Stop your inner critic from sabotaging your efforts by reflecting on these four questions:
- What is the story am I telling myself about this situation?
- Where is this inner dialogue coming from?
- What can I learn from this situation?
- What will I do differently to avoid this kind of problem again?
It is totally possible to write yourself out of a funk. By reflecting on questions like this and writing out your stream of consciousness, you’re taking control. As a result you take the power away from your inner critic, whom just wants to use these moments to derail your efforts. You need not be the victim of a self-sabotaging inner critic, just journal!