People who don’t know me well think I’m super-confident. They watch me take up a microphone and perform, or lead worship and think it comes easily to me. Or they hear me speak in meetings and think I have it all together. I don’t. More than half the time I’m wrestling with this voice in my head, my Inner Critic.
My Inner Critic is harsh, unforgiving and relentlessly talkative. She tells me that my singing is just ordinary, nothing special. Whenever I sing an off-key note my Inner Critic assures me that I’ll never get it right. She says my worship leading is boring and I’m too introverted to be an effective leader. And on and on and on.
As long as something is important to me, my Inner Critic is there to let me know that I can’t do it, will never be able to do it, was never cut out to do it.
Do you have an Inner Critic that plagues you? That tells you that you can’t, won’t, achieve your goals? That you’re not cut out for that thing that you’re working towards with all your heart? That reminds you of all your mistakes every time you’re about to take a step forward?
It’s time to recognise and silence the voice of the Inner Critic.
Learn to Recognize Your Inner Critic
Your Inner Critic was born when you began to believe some negative and unhelpful criticism about you, made by people who were important to you or had some authority in your life.
For example, my Inner Critic sprang to life when I believed the negative, unhelpful criticism from a substitute choir director in high school who told me that my voice was too breathy for me to EVER become a professional singer. She was the choir director and spoke with authority and so I believed her. And so, though I didn’t stop singing, I began to wrestle with nagging doubts about whether I would ever be good enough to become professional.
Your Inner Critic uses facts about you to introduce lies about your potential and your destiny.
In my case, my singing voice IS breathy and somewhat husky. That’s the truth. I also sing bad notes sometimes. That’s the truth. Here comes the lie: “You sing bad notes and your voice isn’t crystal clear and so you’ll NEVER be successful as a singer.”
Other lies can sound like:
“You didn’t get the promotion you hoped for so you’ll never make it to higher levels in your career.”
“You failed your exams so you’ll never experience any success in your life.”
Do you see the lies?
- Who but God knows the future?
- Who knows what path you may be able to take and find success, despite the setbacks you’ve experienced or the mistakes you made?
You can learn from your mistakes. You can get help and improve in areas where you are weak. You can discover how to reframe weaknesses into assets, or even find new areas of strength that will allow you to take next steps in your life.
Your Inner Critic speaks in absolutes.
“You ALWAYS mess up.” “You NEVER get it right.” “You will NEVER succeed.”
Absolutes are often not true. No-one is ALWAYS this or NEVER that. Until you’re dead, you have room to grow.
Your Inner Critic attacks you in the areas of your calling and your identity.
You never experience these relentless doubts about unimportant things, right? You don’t agonize about going to the supermarket or filling your tank with gas before a long trip or setting your alarm to wake up on time to go to work.
The destructive self-talk comes when you are attempting to do something important and impactful with your life.
- You’re struggling to be a good parent.
- You’re pursuing your career dream.
- You’re trying to lose weight and improve your health.
- You’re trying to learn to love yourself in all your glorious imperfection.
That’s what your Inner Critic wants to abort by attacking who you are and what you were made to be.
Your Inner Critic sounds like a cruel, unforgiving version of you.
You think it’s your own thoughts about yourself. And so you accept these destructive thoughts as truth. “You’re such an idiot!” “You keep making the same mistake over and over again. You may as well give up. You’re not cut out for this.” “You’re stupid and that’s why you can’t get it right.”
But it’s not just you. It’s the Enemy of your soul planting seeds of self-doubt and self-hatred to keep you from playing the role in God’s kingdom the Lord has carved out for you.
Silence Your Inner Critic
The first and most important strategy for silencing your Inner Critic is to explode the lies with Truth.
- Learn the Truth. The Truth is what God says about you.
- Speak the Truth to yourself.
- Speak the Truth to yourself OFTEN and CONSISTENTLY.
- Repeat as needed.
So your Inner Critic says, “You didn’t get that job you interviewed for. You’ve been out of a job for 6 months now. Nobody wants to hire you. You’re a failure. You’ll never amount to anything.”
Well, here are the facts:
- You didn’t get the job.
- You’ve been out of a job for six months.
The rest of it – lies. Who knows for sure that NOBODY WANTS to hire you? Who says you’ll NEVER amount to anything? If God didn’t say that, it’s not true.
What IS true is that God promises as your Heavenly Father to provide for you even more than any good earthly father would. So you could apply that truth by:
- Praying for the Lord to provide a job AND
- Getting help to improve your resume and interview skills AND
- Starting or continuing to network to find more job prospects AND
- Encouraging yourself with God’s word, which is truth.
Strategy # 2 to silence your Inner Critic: Keep. Doing. The Things.
Keep searching for that job. Keep growing that entrepreneurial venture. Keep plugging away in school. Keep pursuing that calling. Keep being the parent, the leader, the influencer that you were called to be. Even in the midst of nagging doubt and setbacks, if you keep doing the things, your Inner Critic eventually has to shut up. Because you keep doing the things.
Strategy # 3 to silence your Inner Critic: engage your tribe, your supportive inner circle.
Stay connected with the people who know you, love you, and will offer you both grace and truth. There are those days when you won’t have the strength on your own to learn or speak the truth or to keep doing the things. On those days you’ll need a voice of truth that’s not your own to give you strength to keep standing or to take the next step.
Let’s silence that Inner Critic! It’s an epic battle but so worth it. Remember: with God, ALL things are possible.
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