Guest Blogger: Tamisha Ford | tamishaford.com
Don’t worry – this post isn’t a beckon to crater to your inner critic. Stick with me, and I’ll explain.
On any given day, women and men alike struggle with inner negative thoughts about how they’re showing up in life, on the job, and in their families. It sounds like this: “Am I doing enough?”, “Should I be doing more to help?”, or the dreaded “Why did they pick them over me?” It can also say “you’re not doing it right”, “there’s no way you could”, etc.
You have two voices you hear throughout your day. One is your purest, most trusted advisor. It’s the voice that knows the real truth, and doesn’t mind doing what’s necessary to communicate that truth. It resonates with love, compassion, confidence, and value. It recognizes it’s place in the market, as a human being and as a business owner or colleague among peers. It’s the wisest voice of reason within.
Then there’s another voice. Some have called it the inner critic, some have called it the inner mean girl, and Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, calls it resistance. Resistance comes masked in many forms, and negative self-talk is definitely one of them. The typical advice you would get from a mentor, colleague, friend, or someone who wanted to just protect you from the doubt and pain might say “just ignore it” or “don’t listen to that noise.” The real truth though, is that you really should be listening – not obeying, but listening.
Let me explain the 3 reasons you should be listening when your inner critic speaks up to you.
3 Reasons You Should Listen to Negative Self Talk
- The first reason is she’s showing you exactly what you should be doing. Remember the reference to two different voices you hear in a day? The negative self-talk, once you accurately learn to recognize it, is revealing exactly what you need to be doing. How does that work? The resistant voice doesn’t tell the truth. It’s constantly in opposition to the truth of who you really are – your core. This should be an automatic reference and motivator for your pursuits in any area. When you hear words like just, should, shouldn’t, can’t, won’t be good enough, not really, you need more, what if, or anything similar, know that the exact opposite is your truth. Let her show you the way by revealing her negativity. Hear it and respond by saying “SO glad you’re here – thanking you for showing up – now I know exactly what to do!” This is counter-cultural, and it will take some work on your part, but please stop resisting hearing it. You’ll notice a HUGE change in your work and life.
- Your negative self-talk thinks she knows best. It’s interesting when we’re young, how we jockey for position with our parents and push the limits every chance we get – to steal the cookie out of the cookie jar when no one’s looking or take the gummy bears without asking first. This is an innate part of babies and children’s growth – learning the limits to challenge the boundaries already set. When we get older for some reason, we stop challenging those limits. Think of your self-talk like the parent from your youth you always wanted to push to the edge and always challenge. If she says not to start a business because you won’t be good enough, you’re almost guaranteed success or at least pure enjoyment trying. She really doesn’t know what’s best, so let her speak while you go write down plans to move forward.
- The negative self-talker only shows up when something is going to grow and stretch you. In other words, the inner critic doesn’t show up when you’re about to clean house or get your car washed. These are rote activities that require no sacrifice from you, no real growth, or much thought. The critic doesn’t talk when you’re doing activities that aren’t going to push your life or work forward. So, we need to pay attention to when we hear the voice because it’s there we know we’re on to something that could really stretch us into a new level in our work. Usually, you’ll hear this when you need to ask for a promotion, start your own business, end a relationship, or say “no” to that invitation or person. All very uncomfortable things where the negative self-talker LOVES to show up and roar.
The most important lesson, besides noticing and listening to your negative self-talk and getting intimate with its characteristics is to stop resisting it. What you resist will persist. Don’t talk angrily back to the voice when you hear it – deal in compassion and love. Let your inner critic know you have things taken care of, and you actually can do what she’s telling you isn’t yours to do. This is a very counter-cultural idea, but it’s usually in those ideas we find the greatest wisdom and growth for our life and work. My hope is that this can really change how you’re showing up every day – after all, we need you to show up.