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Overcoming Your Inner Critic

Written by: Victoria Chardon, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Recently I was speaking with a client who has a big dream - the kind of vision that makes someone’s eyes shine when they talk about it. She also had many 'reasons' why she just knew she couldn't fulfill it.

We explored her dream in detail. As she spoke, her excitement was building. The conversation was crackling with aliveness and electricity.

I told her I was getting butterflies hearing her speak.

'Me too!' she cried.

I asked her what those butterflies felt like.

'Alive,' came her reply.

'And if you don't go and live this dream, what will happen to those butterflies?' I asked her.

'They'll die. And I will regret it for the rest of my life.'

Who wants to be a butterfly killer?

The trouble is, our big dreams often feel so overwhelming that we're terrified to go for them. The voice of our Inner Critic is constantly shouting: ‘I can’t give up my financial freedom!’ ‘What if I am making a huge mistake?’ ‘People will judge me if this doesn’t work out!’ ‘It’s safer to stay where I am!’ Sound familiar?

Imagine a circle on the floor around you right now, with yourself in the center. This represents your comfort zone. This is the place where you know what you’re doing, and you know what you’re dealing with most of the time. Maybe it’s not always exciting here, but at least it’s safe.

Around the perimeter of this circle is a high fence. And guarding the fence, like an eagle-eyed sentry, is your Inner Critic.

Beyond the fence is The Great Unknown.

In The Great Unknown, there are possibilities. There is growth, potential, adventure, learning. From inside your circle, you don’t know what any of that looks like, but you’re aware that it’s there. Somewhere in The Great Unknown, you know that your butterflies are flying.

Sometimes, you manage to climb high enough to peek over the fence. Perhaps you catch a glimpse of possibility; perhaps you even feel the flutter of butterfly wings. When this happens, as with my client, you come alive for a brief time.

And then your Inner Critic, on their patrol, reaches the very point in the fence where you’re peering over and forces you back into your comfortable circle with a rebuke and a reminder that it’s easier - and safer - to stay put.

So this brings us to the question that everyone asks when I introduce them to this concept:

What can I do about my Inner Critic?

One of the best strategies to overcome your negative self-talk is awareness and self-distancing. Can you bring awareness to the moment your Inner Critic shows up? Can you pinpoint what triggers those limiting beliefs? Are there themes and patterns in what it says to you?

Bringing awareness is the first step because it shows us that these limiting beliefs are not us. When we learn to see our Inner Critic as the highly strung, over-protective parent that it really is, we can then begin to distance ourselves from them. And just as we have an Inner Critic, we also have an Inner Leader - but we rarely hear their voice amidst the din. If you could meet them - the wisest, most compassionate, and truly confident part of you, the part that knows exactly what needs to be done - what would they have to say about reaching for your dreams?

There is a myriad of ways of connecting with these parts of you and separating their voices. One powerful way is to visualize them. What do you imagine your Inner Critic to look like? How about your Inner Leader? If you were to ask them what they want for you, what do they both have to say? What is your Inner Critic trying to shield you from? And what does your Inner Leader think about that? Grab a pen and paper and start journaling some of these questions out. You will be surprised at what you discover.

There is no off-switch for your Inner Critic and no easy way to pole vault over that fence into freedom. You need to keep bringing awareness and checking in with your Inner Leader. And whilst the Great Unknown is the place where dreams come true, it’s also ok to sometimes stay in your comfort zone. There are moments when we need to feel safe and secure - but that need has nothing to do with your Inner Critic holding you hostage and everything to do with conscious choice. The ideal state of being is one where instead of climbing the fence, you find the gate and pass in and out of the Great Unknown with more ease.

Would you rather kill off your butterflies and what they represent, or face your Inner Critic and let the butterflies fly free? The choice is yours.

For more information, follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and visit my website!


Victoria Chardon, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Victoria Chardon specializes in fulfillment, confidence-building, and making big dreams become a reality. As well as being a Google leader who manages an international team, she is the co-founder of Rising Star Leadership, a consultancy that creates personalized coaching programs for groups, individuals, and corporations. Victoria helps people to connect with themselves on a deeper level than they usually would, pulling them away from life on the surface' and helping them claim their powerful, unique individuality. She also works with leaders to help them incorporate vulnerability and compassion into their leadership style. She is a vocal advocate on wellbeing and mental health and has taken to the stage on several occasions to share her personal journey and break down the stigma of mental health in the workplace.



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