A mindset story: How to battle your inner critic.

There was a professional young woman who had a gift for relating with people matched with an analytical and problem solving mindset. She was on an upward trajectory and had new positions every 18-months that challenged her. As she approached each new challenge she held her mantra close: just push through; you can do this.

As part of her journey, she was offered a promotion to become the main process improvement consultant for a set of teams in her organization. This seemed like a wonderful career fit. The job met her analytical and people skill set, her desire to impact people’s lives, her value of creativity and filled a need within the organization. The organization was happy when she accepted the position and she was ready for the new challenge.

What no one knew about was the internal battle she began fighting as she began this role.

As soon as the new position started, a familiar voice (the inner critic) crept into her head. It said,

  • “Who do you think you are to be in this role? You are too young?”
  • “Why do you think you know more than people who are 15-20 years your senior?”
  • “You are going to fail. They will find out you are a fraud.”
  • “You won’t be successful.”

Again, she repeated her mantra: “just push through; you can do this.”

She tried to argue with the inner critic voices, battle them, ignore them and keep doing her job. The more risks she took in the role the louder the voices became. Back to the battle – argue, battle, ignore, push through. This took a lot of her energy. She was effective in her position, but the voices had an impact. She doubted herself. She didn’t speak up as forcefully as was necessary. She deferred to those more senior even though she was more knowledgeable in this area. She didn’t hold senior leaders as accountable as the job effectiveness required. At the end of the day, she did fine, but she was exhausted. The internal battle took its toll. Just push through; you can do this.

She had many more positions in the course of her career and even left the corporate world to pursue her true passion as an entrepreneur. Through each of those steps, the voices were there and loud. Just push through; you can do this. Internal battle after internal battle sucked out her energy. Outwardly, people saw her rise through her career and admired it. They didn’t know how tired she was, how “just pushing through” wasn’t leading to a fulfilling life. She battled and battled and battled until one day after choosing to live a different life and be a different person she heard a different voice: “you can stop pushing now and just be.”

This was freeing and lead to her path on development and self-awareness, learning what the inner critic voice was, where it came from, what it meant, how to live with it. It was and is a difficult journey, but her energy has returned and she is choosing to be a different person. Being a different person has allowed her to choose different actions. The journey and learning continues, but her mantra has changed: choose joy.