Taming Your Inner Critic

As a leader there are no shortages of critics for every action or inaction you do or don’t do.  If you are successful then you’re lucky and if you fail you’re an idiot, or worse. Sad to say it’s just part of the territory for most of the positions we hold.  The crux of the matter is how we deal with criticism that can make or break us, and the team.

Over the next couple of minutes I’m going to explain how criticism affects us physically, and also give you five strategies on how to overcome it.

First off, when it comes to criticism, most people simply hear “you’re not good enough” or some other variant.  Criticism can be delivered in the most positive way, from people we know care about us, and most of the time it’s taken so personally we end up offended, or the relationship suffers.

Thus, the reason why many a leader has stuck their head in the sand with the hopes that things will just magically work themselves out.  The thing is, this strategy rarely works, if ever, and usually makes things a lot worse.

No matter how you deal with criticism, being criticized causes most of us to lose focus on what the issue really is, creates self doubt, and most likely will stall or slow getting things done.

There are two parts of the brain that decide how we process and respond to criticism: the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex. (Yeah, bet ya didn’t expect to read those words in a leadership article).

The amydala helps us form emotional memories and the medial prefrontal cortex determines how we react to emotional situations.

So why is that important?

When we receive criticism it sticks with us longer and can often trigger memories of past negative situations. That’s where the overwhelmed feeling comes from with just a few words of criticism. It’s natural to feel bad, it’s simply the way we are wired!

Surprise criticism makes us feel bad. Now, what?

The reason why this article is called, “Taming Your Inner Critic” is your inner voice or critic can make or break you as a leader…and if you’re sitting there thinking, “What inner voice, I don’t have an inner voice”…well…just humor the rest of us. =)

As stated before, criticism comes with the territory of being a leader.  It doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it, it simply means you need to learn from it and move on!

I’m sure we all have our own ways of dealing with actual critics; however, if you’d like more information just comment below and I can write a follow up article if you’d like additional resources.  For now… 

Here are five (5) ways to tame your inner critic:

1. Recognize how and what you are thinkingFor some it’s like stepping through different doors. One thought leads to another and next thing you know you are in a completely negative and discouraging mindset. Recognizing negative thought is the first step in taming your inner critic.

2. Ask yourself what advice you would give to a friend who received the same criticism – Many of us are great at helping others shrug of
f criticism, but forget to take the same advice to heart when we need it.

3. Play the “What if” game – what if what you are thinking is true? What could you do now to make things better? Start by making a plan, and begin proving to yourself that just because
this is where you are doesn’t mean it’s where you always have to be.

4. Interrupt the cycle – If you find yourself going round and round again with the same thoughts or memories, try to interrupt the cycle by watching a movie, going for a walk, or
meeting with a friend.

5. Create a character for your critic – It’s really simple, imagine for a second the same phrase “I’m not good enough” or “I always make mistakes” coming from Daffy Duck, or Goofy.  First off, it helps you to disassociate from the phrase and second, hopefully, it helps take away some of the seriousness or mean
ing that we give to our thinking.

In Proverbs 23:7 it says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  Leadership is a mindset.  How you think about yourself, and how you think about your team makes a difference!

Nathan Gist
Dean of PAR University 
Your ‘PER Production/Imaging Director &  Afternoon Drive Host

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