“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”
~ Anna Freud
When Your Inner Voice Keeps Telling You “No”
Client Suzanna Asks: Sometimes I think I am my own worst critic. I constantly catch myself thinking, “That wasn’t good enough” or “You really screwed up this time.” How can I turn this around?
Coach Joel Answers: Self-evaluation can be a positive experience. It helps us learn, correct our mistakes and improve our performance, as well as the perceptions others have of us.
According to psychologist Terry Paulson, it’s estimated that a typical person makes 300 to 400 self-evaluations every day.
That’s a lot of opportunities for self-improvement.
But here’s the rub.
Dr. Paulson says that, for most people, 80% of these self-evaluations are negative!
It’s almost impossible to maintain a positive attitude at work when your inner voice is constantly hammering you for “messing up.” After awhile, self-doubt erodes your confidence and you’ll be tempted to avoid speaking up or taking risks. Instead, you decide to keep a low profile.
Employees with low profiles are less likely to get promoted or assigned key, career enhancing projects. And, when the economy heads south, they are more likely to be laid off.
That’s why it’s important to challenge your critical inner voice.
Here are a few ways to do it:
1. Keep Your Antenna Up.
Be aware when your inner voice is saying “no.” Ask yourself, “Why?” Try to discover the “real” reason you’re being self-critical.
2. Conduct an Impromptu Risk Assessment.
If there is risk involved, ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Clearly, your instincts might be right and your inner voice is trying to keep you from making a horrendous mistake. But, if the nay saying becomes habitual, the real risks may not be as great as you think.
3. Rely on a Mentor or Trusted Colleague.
If you’re not sure that your inner criticism is justified, get a second opinion from a mentor or someone you trust. For example, let’s say you wanted to speak up at a meeting, but your “gut instinct” told you “no.” So you remained silent. Ask your mentor, “I wanted to tell the department head that I thought his idea would hurt customer service, but I was afraid to. Was I right? What would you have done?”
4. Celebrate Your Successes.
Some self-criticism is justified, but can you possibly be wrong (as the statistics suggest) 80 percent of the time? Celebrate those instances when you challenge your inner voice and something positive results.
5. Learn From Your Mistakes.
Obviously, you’re bound to make mistakes when you take risks. Instead of bashing yourself about what went wrong, concentrate on what you learned from the experience and how you’ll handle similar situations in the future. A quality of all great leaders is being invested in their own growth; they focus on moving forward.
6. End Each Day on a Winning Note.
Dr. Paulson suggests concluding each day by “catching yourself being effective.” He also says to “use your calendar to record one success. You may be winning and not know it if you’re not keeping score!”
When you can minimize the self-criticism, you can be more confident in who you are and what you are capable of doing. With this confidence you’ll trust yourself more and have the conviction to believe in your ideas. You’ll speak up no matter someone’s title, superiority or influence.
If your inner voice is holding you back from doing the things you know you need to do to get ahead, Joel’s career advancement coaching program may be the answer for you. Click here for more information.