Your Inner Critic: When to listen; When to ignore

Last night at my daughter’s Girl Scout troop’s meeting, the leader challenged the girls to think about their “inner critic”. What does it tell them? How does it make them feel? When does it speak the loudest?

As I helped the girls gain an understanding of what exactly an “inner critic” is, it made me think a bunch about my own inner critic – that voice inside that judges and assigns value to all that I say and do as a solopreneur, volunteer, mom and wife. My guess is that you have one of those voices, too – one that can either pick you up or drag you down as you fulfill the many roles that you play every day.

Our inner critics are both a blessing and a curse. We need them to will us to strive and accomplish, but there are times when we’re better off not listening to them. They are the proverbial “double-edged sword.”

When to listen…

Heed the feedback from your inner critic when it motivates you to learn, grow and improve your skills. When that voice inside you tells you, “Hey, you can do better if…,” it’s being helpful and encouraging. By all means, listen!

Also, learn to listen to your inner critic when it says, “Great work!” If you’re proud of how you handled a project or have experienced success in something, then feel at ease with your pride. And don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments with others – we all love a great success story!

Feel uncomfortable when others recognize or a compliment you? Don’t suppress your inner critic’s desire to bask in the glow. Acknowledge the shout out and don’t feel bad about feeling important. It’s OK to be in the spotlight – enjoy it! You done good!

When NOT to listen…

If your inner critic picks you apart for every little insignificant foible, it’s time to distance yourself from it. Indeed, that’s easier said than done, but it CAN be done. Surely, there are some things that you’re doing well. Write them down. Read them aloud. And remind yourself that you’ve got skills and talents. Certainly take inventory of what you need to improve, too. But rather than dwell in self-depreciation, take stock of how much of an impact those deficits really make in your business and formulate a plan to overcome those that are mission critical.

Another time to ignore your inner critic is when it constantly compares you to other people. You are you; they are them. Build on your own strengths rather than attempt to emulate someone else by fixing all that your inner critic thinks is broken.

You see, your inner critic has a bit of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde persona rooted in it. There will be times when you’ll have more control over it than others depending on the situation and your frame of mind. The key to making it an asset rather than a liability is to be consciously aware of what it’s saying and recognizing when you should listen – and when you should tell it to shut its pie hole.

Your turn! How much influence does your inner critic have on you? Has it ever prevented you from doing something you wanted to do in your business – or prompted you to do something you really didn’t want to do?

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