Updated: Feb 12, 2022
When I was a freshman in high school, I made the varsity swim team. I was super excited, but when I informed my parents, I was told that our family didn’t compete in swim meets. I was expected to follow my father and sister’s path and make the varsity basketball team, or at least play baseball (like my uncle).
After our first full team swim practice, I realized that I was the “weakest” link (the slowest swimmer). I didn’t know it, but this was the beginning and end of my swimming career, as I had decided I was not good enough or meant to be a successful competitive swimmer.
Over the next four-years, I subconsciously looked for evidence that confirmed my belief and it was not hard to find. If I pushed too hard I cramped up, I didn’t achieve my goals to improve my event times, or that fact that no one in my family supported my efforts or attended a swim meet.
All evidence pointed out that I wasn’t good enough! This subconscious belief started to creep into other aspects of my life and impacted decisions I made from making friends at school, selecting a college to attend, academics, and building meaningful relationships in the Army and throughout young adulthood.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I attended a conference focused on uncovering your passion that I met my first professional coach. During our chats I became aware of the internal critic that whispered in my ear that I was not good enough.
So, how do you silence your internal critic?
Regardless of the change approach you trust, “Change” always starts with YOU. I personally like the ADKAR Model by Prosci.
In order to change, you must first be Aware of the need to change. Be curious, explore your beliefs and actions without judgement to identify patterns in your thoughts, and for your inner critic. Once you have identified it, you must have the Desire to change. Without that internal desire to change, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Long lasting change will become elusive (not sustainable). You have to “own” the change you want to achieve and actively participate in the change process. Once you have the desire to change, you must have the Knowledge to change (what do you do when your inner critic starts). The fourth element is Ability. Give yourself the time and permission to learn the skills and behaviors needed to reduce the “power” your inner critic has over your thoughts and actions. This could be as simple as self-coaching yourself, reminding yourself of all the times your inner critic was wrong. The last step is Reinforcement. To maintain change you must monitor and celebrate your success. In the long run, your reward will come as your inner critic rears its ugly head less often and you can take pride in your accomplishments.
I had to silence my inner critic after writing this blog. He insisted that it was too long.
Silencing your inner critic isn’t easy at the start. However, if you practice, practice and practice so more, it becomes easier over time.
What strategies do you deploy to silence your inner critic?