A few weeks ago, I excitedly submitted a manuscript for a children’s book to a well-known publisher. I thought the book was truly great, which is not something I often feel.
Even at 35, I’m still working on building to the point of having continuous confidence, but in that moment, I felt particularly good.
And then the manuscript got rejected. Twice.
Enter my return to retreating into a negative space. I started to convince myself that I wasn’t good enough to write. I created a narrative that was undermining my innate power to recognize that success is created in the process, not the outcome.
If you’re like me, you’ve had plenty of moments where that little voice creeps into your conscious or subconscious mind and whispers, “You’re not quite good enough” (or some unhelpful variation thereof).
As Multi-Role Women, many of us are juggling these voices in our head as much as we’re juggling the long list of things we need to take care of each and every day…and these little voices can quickly add up to weigh us down much more than anything on our lists.
The Struggle is Real
We’ve all been there: the situations where you have an opportunity to say or do something, but decide not to because in the moment, you feel the sting of risk – risk of judgement, failure, success or fill in the blank) and it is too great, forcing you to retreat.
Then you turn around and feel bad, as a secondary inner voice creeps in and says, “I should have,” “I could have,” or “If only I would have.”
Or you dive in and beat yourself up for everything you did “wrong.”
Sigh. The struggle is real.
Unopposed, our inner critics will comfortably settle in and take up rent free space in our heads. They will happily take full control over our thoughts and behaviors, leaving us feeling like we’re struggling with a harsh prosecuting attorney (who we have accepted as a part of who we are).
The fear and pressure are always going to surround us and the inner voices are likely always going to be there to some degree, so it’s a matter of whether we choose to allow them to guide our lives and decisions.
Step 1: Give yourself a bit of a break, because in today’s world, the struggle with these beastly inner voices is only magnified as we scroll through social media and engage in social comparisons with people we don’t even know and all of their stuff (that’s likely so far removed from reality that it might as well be a Hollywood movie).
The question we need to ask ourselves is: How often do we allow the beast of comparison and criticism creep in and direct how we feel about who we are, what we’re doing, or what we’re capable of doing?
Step 2: Know your power to choose.
Choice is your ultimate power, and when it comes to these inner voices, you’ve got plenty of it!
We are each endowed with tremendous power and capabilities, and when we shift those little voices into a focus on something better – something more positive and progressive – that positive something that we give our attention to will lead us down a path of greater joy and abundance.
In other words, what we appreciate, appreciates.
To tame our inner critic and mitigate its impact on us, we have to begin to take away its power and reclaim our own.
Step 3: Understand the Devil Wears Prada
Not all devils have horns and a tail. Some dress themselves up and try to fit in to look just like you, often pretending to look out for your best interests.
This “Prosecutor in Prada” can convince us that there indeed is something wrong with us. She has also managed to convince us that she IS us.
We think she’s helping as she edges us on with some reassurance that her whispers are rational and said with our best interests in mind, yet deep down we know that the devil does nothing more than wear us down with discouraging thoughts.
Why would we want to keep someone around who prances around wearing Prada, while wearing out any hopes of our feeling great about ourselves?
Anything or anyone who keeps you small is never operating in your best interest. Never.
Here’s where we flip the script of that inner critic and claim back our power!
It begins with recognizing that the inner critic is NOT you.
When you begin to see these struggles as a dialogue between two voices, you can take a side and decide to stick with it. Pick the side of progress and positivity.
The real you – the part of you that lives in every cell beyond that voice in your head – knows that at your core, you are strong and confident.
Step 4: Call out the critic
If I gave you 5 compliments and 1 insult, which would you be more likely to remember?
Now let me flip this with a different question: Would you allow someone to stand in front of you and constantly berate and insult you? I sure hope not.
Here’s the good news: You can become the landlord of your head and there is a lot you can do to keep the prosecutor from constantly creeping in.
Picture that critic and give that voice a name. Maybe “Annie in the attic” or “Sue the spider” (who keeps creeping in) or stick with “The Prosecutor in Prada.”
Change begins with you calling out the critic – identifying and questioning that “voice of no reason.”
Is what she is whispering really true and how can you flip that script into something more positive?
Asking this question alone can help you become more self-aware and self-compassionate, so that you can move on to editing your story and practicing self-transcendence.
Important message: Change does not happen overnight.
Your inner critic is not going to instantly disappear. The prosecutor is not going uproot and settle into some new courtroom.
She’s comfortable where she is…though only because you welcome her to stay.
It can also be beneficial to sometimes seek outside help when you feel like going at it alone is too difficult. Don’t underestimate the power of a good coach or therapist. Having someone hold you accountable can be life-changing.
You’ve got this!