I have to ask, are you the type of guy who wakes up in the morning with a long list of goals to achieve that day? Do you love hitting your time goals so much that even if you miss one target, it feels like hell is freezing over?
Maybe you have a yearly calendar on your phone and every time you check something off, there seems to be another four items to tackle? Getting things done by “x” day of the month, it’s overwhelming right? Yes?
Inner criticism: it’s a weakness of mine too.
The Inner Critic is that that nagging voice inside your head, the one that constantly questions your abilities to get things done quickly and efficiently. It undermines your confidence, and hinders your progress.
As modern men who are under pressure to reach ‘peak performance’, we often face multiple responsibilities, challenges, and aspirations. We strive to excel in our careers, maintain fulfilling relationships with sensitivity and emotional intelligence, and navigate the complexities of family life.
But amidst these responsibilities, our Inner Critic lurks, waiting to pounce on any perceived shortcomings or failures. It works hard to expand the minute fissures and cracks in our self-confidence and self-esteem into giant chasms that destroy our productivity and wellness. It feeds on self-doubt, amplifies negative thoughts, and hinders our potential for growth.
But you know, it is crucial to remember that we all possess the power to take control and silence this internal antagonist.
So I’m going to share five proven strategies that I have tested on myself over decades. A plan that will help you to silence your nagging Inner Critic and reclaim your self-confidence.
Where do I start?
I am a time-pressed business owing husband and father to 7 children. I never feel like I have enough time to devote myself to my family, not matter how quickly I work and how strategic I think have been with my time…
We all have an Inner Critic who is loudest of all. Maybe you feel unfit, overweight, a failure at work, or just freeze when life gets in the way.
The single biggest mistake I see men make is that you’re trying to silence your ‘Inner Critic’. Don’t do it! Use a little humor and a little irreverence to show how you are feeling.
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they pass” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers’ Guide To The Galaxy
Yes, I’ve learned that it’s important not to treat time as a matter of life and death – unless it is! So what do I do?
Between juggling kids’ foibles, accommodating their shifting time demands and schedules…
…with the demands of career and business, staying present and connected with all of the family as a dad and husband…
…how do I do it all and not fold under the Inner Critic’s harsh words?
I give myself an even break! I say that if you set yourself a time goal, multiply the time by 3. If you only take twice as long to get it done that’s a #win. Taking my own advice is tough though.
Meeting your personal targets can be hard sometimes.
Alright then, scratch that – pretty much always.
If you are like me, I have an Inner Critic who waits to ambush me at every turn, if I’m not careful! He gets on my case about every last little thing that I am trying to achieve and fall short on.
1. Give your Inner Critic a Silly name and Voice…
Whenever you hear the early whispers of the Inner Critic in your ear, its time to take action, give him or her a silly name. Mine is called ‘Cartman” (I love “South Park”…) – I started tackling my negative thoughts by actually giving them a name and a face.
By putting a face on these thoughts, I could literally see my inner critic in action – better still, I could visualize myself using that voice.
Keep a diary. I found that every time I felt negative, I could see the “pattern” behind Cartman’s complaining. It makes it way easier to identify these negative thoughts as something coming from the outside. This is grounded in proven psychology! The negative criticism becomes meaningless!
Try it! I’ll bet you can’t take those negative comments seriously. You will realize that your inner critic’s opinions and criticisms are NOT your reality. So look for some evidence that the negativity that are feeling actually reflects reality – because if it does not, then it is way easier to look for a positive way to deal with any given situation.
2. Strike A Pose
Have you noticed that people tend to mumble when they are being self-critical? Some people even whisper to themselves those same negative thoughts go to a quiet place where you can talk to yourself at normal and try saying them out loud.
Do a power pose, hands on hips, legs apart…face the feelings, head on. Studies have shown that power poses increase feeling powerful, confident, and positive. People told researchers they felt stronger when they engaged in power poses and upright postures.
No slumping, stand tall! Jaw up, and tense your muscles, ready to act, as if you are facing off an aggressive dog. You are the boss, you have the power in your grasp. Visualize how you will feel when the negativity is dispersed by your positive energy.
Those same negative thoughts do not feel as powerful ad impactful when you face them down and speak them openly, with confidence that they will pass.
3. Give Yourself a Break
You may find that your Inner Critic tends to only come out to play at a particular time each day. There may be triggers for this:
If this is the case, tell him to make an appointment, and limit the duration of the meeting.
I mean it, literally. treat the Inner Critic like a really difficult client. Be direct, get to the point and go through what you are feeling as quickly and efficiently as you are able
Set a timer. Tell yourself that this torrent of negativity and self-criticism will only be allowed to last for the duration of the meeting, tell the Inner Critic to let it rip.
When the timer goes, tell yourself that you’re done with it, you’ve got it out of your system, and move on with your day.
4. Look under the Hood
Consider the facts behind what your Inner Critic is saying. Use the Three Sieves of Socrates test to consider which self- critical thoughts you need to get rid of…
One day, the old wise Socrates walks down the streets, when all of the sudden a man runs up to him “Socrates I have to tell you something about your friend who…”
“Hold up” Socrates interrupts him “About the story you’re about to tell me, did you put it through the three sieves?”
“Three sieves?” The man asks “What three sieves?”
“Let’s try it” Socrates says.
“The first sieve is the one of truth, did you examine what you were about to tell me if it is true?” Socrates asks.
“Well no, I just overheard it” The man says.
“Ah, well then you have used the second sieve, the sieve of good?” Socrates asks “Is it something good what you’re about to tell me?”
“Err no, on the contrary” the man answers.
“Hmmm” The wise man says “Let’s use the third sieve then, is it necessary to tell me what you’re so excited about?”
“No not necessary” the man says.
“Well” Socrates says with a smile “If the story you’re about to tell me isn’t true, good or necessary, just forget it and don’t bother me with it.”
5. Write Your Own Script and Be Your Own Coach
This is possibly the most important step to take, as it is the ultimate iteration of all of the other silencers of the Inner critic.
Frame your own dialogue. Drop the negative words and accentuate the positive ones.
You’re NOT “awful at preparing a cash flow forecast – don’t say, I can never get them right!”. Instead say “I ‘m going to write a cash flow forecast and it’s going to be better than my last one”. Forward momentum is everything
If you ever feel down about an exam, try flipping the script. Instead of beating yourself up with thoughts like, “I wasted so much time on social media. I’m a failure. I shouldn’t even be here,” try shifting to a more positive mindset. Say to yourself, “Okay, I admit I spent too much time on social media. Lesson learned. I won’t make that mistake again.”
And hey, if mornings and studying aren’t best buds for you, don’t stress. Instead of going all, “I ignored the alarm. I’m cursed. I can’t even wake up,” switch it up with, “Oops, missed the alarm, but there’s still time to turn things around. Let’s make the most of it.”
Before a big performance, rather than worrying about what everyone will think, focus on your prep and self-confidence. Swap out the negative predictions like, “They’re going to laugh at me,” with a more positive spin: “I’ve put in the work, I’m prepared, and I’m confident in my abilities.”
And when you’re voicing your opinion, don’t get too caught up in what others might think. Instead of stressing, “What will they think of me?” go for a more chill approach: “Some might appreciate my perspective, and it’s cool if not everyone agrees. What matters is I’m sharing my thoughts?”
Shifting to this positive mindset can do wonders in shutting down that inner critic of yours.
Our Inner Critic often emerges from a combination of societal expectations, past experiences, and our own self-imposed standards. It is that voice that reminds us of our past mistakes, magnifies our insecurities, and questions our worthiness. It thrives on comparison and perfectionism, fueling a cycle of self-criticism that can be detrimental to our mental health and overall happiness.
Remember, you have to do the work, and it can be frustrating. I’ve been there and although I’m way better at it than I used to be, the journey has some serious twists and turns.
Stop comparing yourself to other people and learn how to forgive yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would show to a close friend. Be gentle with yourself, and recognize that making mistakes and experiencing setbacks is a normal part of the human experience.
If you had a friend that talks to you the same way you talk to yourself in your head, would you still keep that friend? You’re entitled to a free trial in life, to find out what works and what doesn’t .
I any given actions are not working for you, use this as an opportunity to try something new.
Footnote: This is why my Inner Critic ‘Cartman” backs off way faster that he used to, and has a way quieter voice these days….
Jim is a lawyer, relationship coach, business owner - and best of all a loving husband and father, who happily lives in total awe of his wife and 7 amazing children. Find out more about Jim at www.relationshipsrebuilt.com and www.everythingfordads.com