How Your Inner Critic keeps your success and Self-Confidence Elusive

career podcast Nov 05, 2019

Can't listen? Here's the transcript:  

Today I want to talk about a phenomenon I see time and time again in my programs and in my corporate trainings: Highly successful, educated women who are leaders in their field and with their teams, who are feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and tired of trying to be more and do more so that they can continue to prove that they are a valuable member and making a bigger impact. 

So many of us can relate, whether you are a CEO or a stay at home parent. We live in a culture of scarcity that tells us either subtly or outright that we’re not doing enough, that we don’t have enough, and no matter what we are doing and do have, we’re not good enough. 

In my own life, I have to watch out for this constantly. Because if I am letting my Inner Critic rule my mind, I define myself and my worth by how much I am doing and how much of an impact I am making. It’s not my schedule that I need to keep my energy on. It’s my thinking. 

My Inner Critic is always on the look out to find ways to tell me that I’m not good enough. In order for ME to rule my mind rather than my Inner Critic, I need to practice this thought: What I produce and what I contribute is NOT my value.

My value is just who I already am. I don’t have to keep proving my worth by being more, doing more, and having more. Don’t get me wrong: I love making a bigger impact and I will continue to do so. But, instead of NEEDING to make that bigger impact in order to define my worth, I know that I already AM enough.

In fact, I know that I am already more than enough--faults, flaws, worts and all. Because the people who matter to me the most don’t love me for what I do or for what I’m doing for them. They love me for who I already am. And there are probably people who don’t love me for who I already am. But those people are NOT my people. And if they don’t love me or choose me, that’s not about ME.

Each of us begins life whole, a beautiful inner essence, and completely pure.And as we go through childhood, our human wholeness gets chipped away at. We may not feel so good about ourselves, our true selves. We sometimes question our self-worth, our inner value. I’ve struggled with this a good portion of my life.

In other words, we feel ashamed about ourselves. When we live and go to the workplace feeling unworthy, we feel disconnected from our inner being, from others, and our work, when by human nature, we just want to belong, to be affirmed, and to be accepted.  But when our Inner Critic is in charge, we look to the people who are NOT our people to determine our worth.   

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself hundreds of times, “Am I good enough?” In your head, you know the right answer. But sometimes it’s more difficult to convince the rest of you—the heart and the body.

Amazingly, our self-worth has nothing to do with what we’ve accomplished, where we work, what our talents are, where we live or travel, what we’re wearing, how much education we received, who we are with, or how much money we have in our pocket.

And it has everything to do with understanding that all of us as human beings have really old, subconscious beliefs that guide how we see ourselves, the world around us, and everything that happens in that world. These subconscious beliefs, which are your Inner Critic’s beliefs, cause you to live on stress and adrenaline, running and running to get to the next goal to prove your worth.   

Most people never really examine the underlying beliefs that affect their thoughts. Most of us go through life relating to our thoughts like our thoughts are truths about us and our world.  Most of us don’t examine the thoughts that make us feel the most vulnerable, the most exposed, the most weak, and the most fearful. 

And it is these thoughts which cause the places where we are struggling the most. We get used to the struggle and it becomes just “the way it is”.  And it becomes our new normal. That new normal is what our culture is breeding.

Starting with our children, who learn at a young age to define their worth by their grades, their sports accomplishments, their academic resume, what their bodies look like, the clothes they wear, how popular they are, and where they go to college. This is the perfect breeding ground for the Inner Critic to take a firm hold. And this is how we end up living our lives running from shame, trying to prove that we’re enough, despite the fact that we already ARE enough.  

We all have feelings of shame. We all have it and it's one of the most primitive emotions we have. Only sociopaths don’t have it. And no one talks about it. It’s like we’re all afraid to talk about it but unless we talk about it, the more control it has over us and our lives. 

We need to fess up to having it. Shame is connected to the fear of disconnection. We are emotionally hard wired for connection, love and belonging. And our underlying fundamental beliefs are connected to the Fear that we are unlovable, or are not good enough. Connection is what gives purpose to our lives.

But many people are so guarded against connection, whether we’re talking about connection with ourselves or connection with other people, because we don’t want to experience painful emotions like rejection, failure, that we’re in some way not good enough or even that we’re unlovable. 

Shame is fear that something we have done or failed to do, an ideal standard that we haven't lived up to or a goal that we haven't achieved. And this shame makes us unworthy of connection. Brene Brown's research show thats shame is the intensely painful experience of believing that we’re flawed, and therefore unworthy of love, belonging and connection. 

Shame drives the tapes, that you're “never good enough” and “who do you think you are?”. Your Inner Critic will vacillate between these two, because as soon as you over come the belief that you’re not good enough and actually step into playing a bigger game, your Inner Critic will say, “Who do you think you are? You don’t have what it takes to do this.”

And our Inner Critic wants us to stay small because it makes us feel safe.  But when we try to stay small and not go for the dream career, not allow ourselves to be vulnerable with our partner, have the difficult conversation, go for the relationship we really deserve to have, give up the addiction to success, or for that matter the addiction to something that numbs us to pain, we suffocate and feel out of control.  

Fear and anxiety are the drivers that make me do more and more, and no matter what I accomplish, I think that it’s not enough.  Those are the automatic, conditioned thoughts of my Inner Critic. If you’re not able to distinguish the difference between your Inner Critic mind and your Authentic Self, this is when success and self confidence can be elusive.  When you let your Inner Critic run free in your mind, you will spend your life spinning in self doubt and focusing on what’s going wrong or what isn’t enough in your life rather than focusing on what’s already working.

Unfortunately, this is hard wired in our DNA to predict gloom and doom, because millions of years ago we needed to be hyper alert to danger. Remember in today’s world, this is how our thoughts become stories in our minds because we relate to any thought like it’s a fact.

We don’t make the space in our busy, hectic lives to tune into our minds. We just keep operating on top of the shame, self doubt and lack of confidence that we are all too familiar with.  And unfortunately, we can never eradicate our Inner Critic from our mind.  

I have finally learned that just because I CAN do something, doesn’t mean that I should. I don’t have to over-function and not take care of myself in order to make sure that someone else isn’t upset or disappointed. I don’t have to try to make sure that everyone loves me.

Get used to asking yourself the question: “Am I doing this out of obligation or to prove that I’m enough?”  And then set boundaries. I went to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the Philadelphia Women’s Convention and she said to draw a sacred circle around the people and things that matter to you the most and then only focus on those things. 

She said that she doesn’t even return emails unless it’s something that falls inside of that sacred circle. I found that very inspiring. I have stopped trying to find my experience of success, pride and confidence by anything that I do, anything that I have. or any of my accomplishments.  Because if my confidence and success and experience of being proud of myself is based solely on what I do and the impact I have, then that sets me up to keep chasing the next accomplishment to define my worth. I have to think intentional thoughts on purpose, on a daily basis that get me in touch with who I already am.  

And who I already am is love, joy, and passion.  I don’t need to prove that or strive for that. It’s just who I am. And when I know who I am, I have nothing to prove. I can see the success that I already have in my life, just because of who I already am. 

And I can celebrate those successes, rather than needing more, being more, doing more. And when I choose to do more, I have my energy on what’s in my sacred circle first. 

You were made to live and love with your whole heart. You were made to be who you already ARE--not who your Inner Critic has convinced you that you are. Stop living your life worried about what other people think.  You were born worthy of love and belonging.

In order to truly change your life, you need to be willing to think differently from how you feel.

That's why I collected some of my favorite resources and trainings to create an owner's manual for your mind. Want access? Tell us where to send your log-in details! 

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