Managing the inner critic

By leahlambart
22 January 2020
Managing the inner critic
Author: Emily Manley, Career & Interview Coach, Relaunch Me

We all have one, the nagging persistent voice of the pesky inner critic telling you that ‘you can’t’.  You can’t wear that, it is not your colour, you can’t try yoga, you aren’t flexible enough, you can’t turn up to that function where you will know no-one, you are not a good networker, you can’t go for that promotion, you are not good enough – and on and on the inner critic goes. Sometimes it can be so loud, it becomes very difficult to ignore.

It’s important to note that the inner critic is not all bad.  It can teach you, keep you grounded and humble and ensure that you learn from failures. It is unrealistic to believe that we will be able to completely eradicate the inner critic, however it is absolutely possible to quieten it.

You may find that your inner critic is louder at certain times in your life. When you are busy or tired, or when you have made a mistake or experienced a ‘failure’ (and we all do!), or when someone in your life treats you poorly or tries to dim your light.

You are particularly vulnerable to the inner critic when you are considering a significant career change or looking to return to the workforce following a lengthy break. The inner critic presents 100s of reasons why you can’t do it and in my experience, it is one of the primary reasons people hold themselves back from taking steps towards what they truly want.

There are a few ways you can quieten the inner critic when considering a significant change:

Understand and leverage your strengths

Seek to really understand where your strengths lie and ensure that any career transition plays to these strengths.  There are a number of ways to identify your strengths. Think about what your close friends or family say are the best things about you. If you don’t know, ask them! Consider the tasks and activities that really energise you. Write them down. What you focus on grows, so it is much better to focus on your strengths than your flaws. Many of us find ourselves spending more time on what we believe to be ‘wrong with us’, when we should be recognising and appreciating what is great about us.

Accept that every person (including you!) has flaws

We are not human if we are not flawed in some way.  Making peace with our flaws can bring a very healthy level of self-awareness that actually increases rather than erodes our self-confidence. Our flaws make us who we are. Often they are programmed and there is not much that we can do to change them, but we can learn how they shape us and we can ensure that any career change we undertake plays more to our strengths than highlights our deficiencies.

Take care of yourself

‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ might be an over-used metaphor, but it has a lot of truth to it when it comes to self-care. When you are exhausted, stressed or burning the candle at both ends, you will not have the capacity to be kind to yourself and the inner critic will suddenly become much more dominant.  Often when people are considering a career change, they may be feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or burnt out, so it is even more important during these times to put self-care at the top of the list. During times of transformation there will always be a level of stress and exhaustion – despite this, it is important to continue to take small, manageable steps towards your change – feeling like you are progressing even if it is only in a small way does wonders for your energy and motivation.

Surround yourself with cheerleaders

There are always going to be doubters in your life. Those who find reasons to tell you that you shouldn’t or couldn’t, or those who try to bring you down to make themselves feel better. Sometimes you need to make difficult decisions when it comes to the unhealthy relationships in your life. Surround yourself with people who will support you no matter what, those who seek to lift you up and inspire you. Speak with people who have successfully navigated a career change to incite inspiration and confidence within you to be able to do the same.

As the great Ita Buttrose says, the only limitations we have are the ones that we put upon ourselves.

If your inner critic is holding you back from taking steps towards your career change, contact us at Relaunch Me to remove some of your limiting beliefs and help you get closer to doing the work you were meant to do.

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