You know that voice, that inside voice that whispers ‘you can do this’ into your ears as you take that daunting step? The one that gives you that gentle nudge forward to push you outside of your comfort zone. It knows when enough is enough, fear cannot and will not win every time. It simply can’t.
But what about the voice that tells you you’re not good enough, you’re not ready or you’re not suited. That voice which drills into you time and time again that now is not your time so you better take a step back. Bask in the fear. This inner critic. This silencer. They love nothing more than keeping you in your place. Which one do you listen to more?
In ‘Don’t Keep Your Day Job’, Cathy Heller talks about your mess being a part of your message and I think this is really important to remember, particularly in times of transition, times of change and times of uncertainty. Pretty much like this exact time. Hello Pandemic.
For many of my clients and for many of you, that voice that tells you you’re not good enough, what we could call your ‘Inner Critic’ or IC for short, grows and takes over in times of a job search particularly. The constant applications, the virtual interviews, the unexplained silences from recruiters, all of these and more weigh heavily on your being. They play into what the voice knows – or thinks it knows and essentially feed it. That is if you let them.
How do you counteract this though?
1. Let’s start off by naming your inner critic. Yep, give them a name. Separate them from yourself. Mine for instance? She’s Jaz. A headwrecker, a button-pusher and the gal who knows just what to say, to make me tremble (both literally and figuratively). My friend calls hers Herbie – yes like the VW.
Research shows that trying to annihilate your inner critic or trying to suppress them, doesn’t work in the long run. Terrible I know. But detaching them from yourself, well that’s the start. It takes them out of your being as such, and almost creates a separate person. One who you can speak to, question and potentially reason with.
2. Question the IC. Say for example you performed badly in the interview – we’ve all been there. Questions not fully answered, eye contact sparse, hands shaking with nerves – you get me? This is GOLD for your IC. The jackpot.
I can hear Jaz explicitly now… ‘See I told you. You don’t fit in here’, ‘You’re an imposter’. But instead of accepting what she says at face value now, I question it. Each and every time. It takes effort and perseverance but it works. Now I ask the simple question – why not? Why not me? Sometimes she tries to come back but the more I question her, the less interested she becomes.
3. Stop feeding your Inner Critic. The negative messages that they try to deliver to you time and time again? Reframe these. Get a pen and paper and literally write down the reframed belief. ‘You’re not a People Person’ becomes ‘I love people and being around them’, ‘You can’t deal with data’ becomes ‘I can tell a good story from data because it gives a strong backbone’. Focus on your strengths instead of the weaknesses that your IC preys on. Does this mean you won’t have any weaknesses
4. Choose Courage over Comfort. In Brene Brown’s ‘Dare to Lead’ course (and book), she talks about choosing courage over comfort and sometimes in a job search, sometimes in life actually, you can’t have both. If you choose to step outside, to put yourself out there, it may be uncomfortable but and the big but here, by doing this, you’re allowing and encouraging yourself to grow. Your inner critic won’t like this. Part of their ‘job’ is to protect you from shame, keep you in that comfort zone where you know what you know and it feels nice and cushy. Recognising this, acknowledging this, when you’re in the middle of a job search and it feels relentless, can keep you going. It is completely ok to feel brave and afraid at the same time.