Why is it that after a rough day at the mercy of my inner critic, questioning whether my passion is really worth it, that the next morning I find myself channelling my best TLC impression, belting out my new rendition of “No Scrubs“?
No, you re-a-lly suck,
You suck so much it’s not f-un-ny
Everyone thinks you’re sh*t
You’ve got no cap-a-bi-li-tyyy
No, you re-a-lly suck,
You suck so much it’s not f-un-ny…
Hating on myself much? Why on Earth would I want to add fuel to my inner critic’s already raging fire?
Call it what you will—saboteur, not-me, small self, inner mean girl—she lives inside us all.
Belting out my terribly written song, drawing upon the thoughts spinning in my head this past day, really showed me how ridiculous her stories are.
She’d had her time on the soapbox for the last 12 hours—it was my time to reclaim the stage.
Am I really the number one suckiest person on Earth?
Does every single person on Earth think I’m sh*t?
Do I truly have absolutely zero capabilities?
Even from the doldrums, I can see there’s likely at least one person in the world who sucks more than me.
At least one person doesn’t think I’m sh*t. (And hey, who cares if that’s my cat?)
And I surely have at least one capability. Even if that’s the alchemy of turning my despairing inner world into writing gold.
Frankly, my inner critic strikes so hard sometimes I want to crawl into a shell, under a bed, inside a locked concrete room, and stay there.
I’m certain that you can relate.
So, what’s with the critical song? Well, for one, I started laughing with myself. And where did my mind go next? Straight to my “Victory List,” my friends.
Without any conscious effort whatsoever, my mind started looking for evidence that this ridiculous self-criticism was not, in fact, true.
And, oh, did my Victory List deliver. What the heck is this?
A Victory List is a written collection of positive feedback about you. Your personality, traits, strengths, and capabilities. Every single time you hear one about yourself, you add it to the list. Mine is a simple note in my iPhone.
And as you can see, I refer to it (even unconsciously, it appears) whenever I’m doubting myself. Whenever my inner critic is raging from her soapbox.
I’m talking things like:
>> Your friend says you’re a good listener.
>> You smashed that presentation at work.
>> You lead your team well.
>> You’re proud of the way you handled your son today.
>> Your sister tells you you’re a great cook.
Write it all down. Refer to it often. Keep it forever. Add to it any time someone tells you something positive about yourself.
As Darwin said, we should always be on the hunt for verifiable evidence that our (negative) beliefs are not true.
And all that matters, in the moments we want to crawl under a hard shell, is that we remind ourselves our inner critic is not us. Nor is it reality.
It’s simply the same small self we all have, coming out of hiding, spitting out the same BS about our unworthiness. And it’s particularly strong for women. Especially when we’re doing something new, putting our work out into the world, feeling like we’re under the spotlight, or during phases of growth.
In a nutshell, whenever we dare to be vulnerable, to step outside our comfort zone.
So women, I want to shout out to you today.
I see you. Working hard, raising your family, aspiring for things—but questioning yourself, giving way too much attention to that small self on the soapbox.
Please, hear this:
You are smarter and more capable than you can possibly imagine.
You have bucketloads more potential than you give yourself credit for.
Your ideas matter. Your voice matters.
And people out there admire you, exactly as you are.
Your inner critic won’t tell you any of that.
So push her off the soapbox.