We all have little voices inside our heads. In general, they want to keep us safe and sound. They don’t want us to be embarrassed, feel rejection, or be uncomfortable. To protect us, however, they operate as inner critics. They tell us not to try things or warn us that we’ll fail. In doing so, they sabotage us and prevent us from achieving (or even trying to achieve) a big, hairy, audacious goal (a BHAG as it is sometimes called). They limit us.
In the first post in this series, I talked about limiting beliefs–beliefs we form about ourselves, others, and the world that limit the way we live our lives. Our inner critics reinforce and repeat these limiting beliefs whenever we feel insecure or inferior.
You can walk away from a colleague that talks negatively about you or one of your goals. Your inner critics are omnipresent and much more difficult to ignore. You can’t walk away from them, but you can distance yourself from them. For starters, give them a name. In doing so, you acknowledge their presence and the fact that they’re not you.
I call these little voices “gremlins.” I ask critical questions of them. Are they really trying to help or hurt? I remind them of their role to keep me safe, but also that risk of failure is often necessary to achieve success and happiness. Asking them questions tends to quiet the negative voices and gets them to focus on how best to stay safe while committing to a new and potentially risky goal.
This four-part series has been geared toward making positive progress toward goals by reducing or eliminating barriers. You can accelerate your positive progress by taking these four steps:
- Change your limiting beliefs
- Resist making quick judgments
- Remind yourself that past performance is not a guarantee of a future outcome, and
- Make those inner critics work for you, not against you.