Silencing your inner critic

I failed to find an image from the old Warner Bros. cartoons, but here Homer Simpson gets the angel and devil treatment.

It’s a favorite cartoon technique: a poor, conflicted character has a little angel on one shoulder encouraging him to do the right thing while a little devil on the other shoulder tries to lead him astray.

Let’s think of your inner critic as that devil on your shoulder, pulling you away from your goals, discouraging you from believing in yourself, turning you into your own worst enemy.

Harvard Business Review had a blog post recently about managing your inner critic. Author Susan David writes:

A client — I’ll call her Sonya — is typical of many top-level executives who struggle with an over-eager inner critic. Despite numerous accomplishments, including a graduate degree from a prestigious business school and a partnership at a leading accounting firm, Sonya always feels like an underachiever. Every day she sees herself as a new graduate — tongue-tied, fumbling, and trying to prove herself for the very first time. Sonya is convinced that soon someone will find out the awful truth — that her incompetence will become clear and that she’ll lose her responsibilities, her partnership, and eventually her job. Even though Sonya has never received a negative performance appraisal, she feels stressed, unhappy, and unfulfilled. Sonya is successful — and completely miserable.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Susan writes that trying to just shut up the critic can actually make it worse. It’s not logical, so you can’t overcome it with logic.

Instead, she writes, you need to get to know and understand that little devil, then act in spite of him.

Check out her full post here to learn more about how to do that.

Do you struggle with your inner critic? Do you have any good ways to quiet that voice of doubt and negativity?

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Categories: career, creativity

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