Let’s get one thing out of the way: I talk about the inner-critic a lot. I do it because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this beast— the voice in your head that keeps you small— has the capacity to be the ONE thing that prevents you from living your most kick-ass life. And when it’s uncovered, managed, and transformed…everything changes.
This post is about a real-life situation that happened to me a few years ago, and how I’m dealt with my own inner-critic. I'll also weave in a couple of examples that might happen in your life…
And I totally freaked out.
It wasn’t an “OMG-this-is-so-amazing!” kind of freak out. It was a “I’m-so-incredibly-uncomfortable-with-all-this-success-and-attention-I-can’t-be-a-functioning-human-being-ever-again” kind of freak out.
I soldiered on through the book promotion and hid out for about 4 months when it was over. Then I went head first into working on my own shit because what happened during that time was a HUGE indicator that work needed to be done.
Then about a year ago the call came from my literary agent. He and my publisher are ready for me to write a second book. He asked for an outline and I told him I would have it emailed over by the end of May. May 30th came and went and I hadn't started. I procrastinated like it was my JOB. I’m was ready to write the book except OMG THAT’S SCARY!
Why so scary, you ask? Because here’s what my inner-critic says to me the minute my agent tells me they are ready for book #2 and they want an outline:
“What, I think I’m an author now?”
“This one needs to be better than the first”
“My new idea isn't good enough”
“They're going to pass on it or make me change it”
And when I dig really deep and ask myself what I’m really afraid of– it’s failure a little bit, yes. But what scares me the most…is success.
It’s the big message of “Who do you think you are?”
I’m no stranger to this question. I’ve been hearing it and working on it (over and over) since I started my business nearly six years ago. Well, to be honest, most of my adult life.
And as I’ve been going through it again and working through it, I knew I needed to tell you— my dear ass-kickers—what the steps are exactly to make my way through it and carry on. So, here they are:
Before I jump in– this doesn't have to be directly related to doing and accomplishing big goals. Maybe you want to speak up in a meeting, ask someone out, initiate sex with your partner, have a hard conversation with someone, or set a boundary. Any of those examples has the ability to make your inner-critic go nuts, so these steps definitely apply here.
As a bonus step- before ANY of this happens, is that it’s hugely helpful to know what your actual triggers are. What makes your inner-critic go crazy? My work is a trigger for me. Writing is both art and career (and a calling) so I know I am very vulnerable to shame here. Wait– did someone just say SHAME? Yes, I did. Something this big for me has the opportunity to bring up so much discomfort: criticism, failure, rejection, and feeling not good enough. All things that are a shame shit-storm for me. And when we’re in shame, we hide unless we PRACTICE another way.
Step 1: I know it’s happening. This might sound obvious, but for many people, they’re so used to living in fear and being paralyzed by the a-hole voice in their head, they don’t even realize it’s happening.
For me, I know when I’m not returning phone calls (in this case it would be specifically to my agent), hiding out, procrastinating, telling NO ONE what’s going on, feeling anxious about what’s happening, beating myself up, and going over “what if” scenarios over and over, I know I’m in trouble. That’s when I know I need to:
Step 2: Reach out and tell my story. Like Brené Brown teach us: It’s the right story, at the right time, to the right person. Lucky for me I have those people in my life. I can call them and say, “Hey, this is happening and I’m so freaked out by it”. And they don’t judge me, they don’t try to fix it, and they don’t tell me I’m crazy for thinking that and to get over it. They see me and hear me and love me in all my human-ness/human-mess. When we tell our stories to the right people shame can’t survive. It’s as simple as that.
Step 3: Do the hard thing anyway. As I type this, earlier this week I sent my outline to my agent for feedback so we can send it to the publisher. I even told him what I wanted in my contract this time (SCAAAARRRY). And I didn’t die.
Once I had acknowledged what I was really afraid of and told my story to people I trust, it was easier to keep going. Was it less scary? Maybe, maybe not. But, the inner-critic voice had lost its power. And when it loses its power, we can make room for taking the action that lines up with what we really want in life.
Need support with your inner-critic? Join me and lots of women just like you as I personally take you through the 7-Days of Courage Challenge! It's one thing to read about it, but a whole nother animal when you put the tools into ACTION! We start June 1st! Sign up for free here: