Are you scared of stepping up and being seen in your work? Of putting yourself out there? Of standing in your own power and launching your dream business, product or service?
If so, you’re not alone — it’s one of the most common fears I see. This type of fear can appear in many ways — being too scared to ask for a raise, or seek a promotion, or start your dream business, or leave your uninspiring job, or perhaps write the book you’ve been mentally planning for years. In fact, I’ve worked with some people who struggle to even put a simple picture of themselves on their website or social media, preferring instead to stay safely behind the scenes and in the shadows.
Regardless of how this fear manifests for you, if you dig into the mindset behind it, you’ll always find the same thing: a fervent belief that you’re not good enough, successful enough, smart enough, pretty enough, young enough or qualified enough.
… Sound familiar?!
If you’re nodding your head right now in recognition — knowing that you’ve said those exact words to yourself before — let me remind you that that voice inside your head that says those mean things to you is your inner critic. Your inner critic will constantly pop up inside your head to tell you how worthless you are. It’s also the one responsible for your fear of being seen, and the reason why you’re struggling to get ahead in your career or business.
The good news, however, is that fear-based whisperings do not need to keep you stuck and paralysed forever.
You are not the fear-based whisperings your inner critic says to you, you are LOVE!
Here’s a simple framework for mastering your inner critic and conquering your fear of being truly seen in your work.
1. Become aware of what your inner critic is saying to you.
Does it tell you you’re too old to go after that speaking gig? Or not smart enough to do a Master’s Degree? Or that you’ve missed the boat? Or that every time you open your mouth at a networking event you sound like an idiot? (We really do say the most awful things to ourselves, right?!)
Tune in to and write down what your inner critic is saying, but don’t judge yourself, and don’t panic when you can’t stem the flow… simply observe the thoughts as they arise in your mind and remind yourself that you are not those limiting fear based thoughts. You are love! Writing them down will really help you get out of your head and back to your truth. So go ahead and write them down now.
2. Recognise that just because you’ve had those thoughts, DOESN’T mean that they’re true.
For many of us, the moment our inner critic lets rip with a negative thought about how unworthy we are, we become convinced that it’s 100% true… But this simply isn’t the case.
Your inner critic’s job is to keep you ‘safe’ in your comfort zone, which is precisely why it tries to talk you out of going after those big, bold goals that excite you so much — because with growth, there also comes a degree of risk.
Unfortunately, it has a tendency to drastically overestimate what could go wrong, and in its role as your ‘inner critic’ the only way it can stop you from taking those kinds of ‘risks’ is by making you as scared as it is. That’s why it insists on directing a constant stream of negativity your way — because it will stop you from standing in your power, realising how amazing you truly are, and putting it out of a job in the process!
3. Know that everyone has thoughts and fears like these.
When you’re mired in the constant negative chatter of your inner critic, it can be very isolating and feel like you’re the only crazy person with these mean negative thoughts. It’s easy to believe that you’re the only one who’s struggling with low self-worth and a constant barrage of inner criticism. But nothing could be further from the truth…
Everyone has their own inner critic inside their heads — yep, EVERYONE! Sure, some people have gotten really good at mastering it, but it’s still there. Even those people you admire so much who seem to be living the dream without a worry in the world still have to deal with it. I am still mastering mine, just so you know.
4. Ask yourself the deep questions.
Sometimes our fear might seem to be caused by one thing, while actually being caused by another. For example, on the surface, you might think that you’re scared to go after that big, juicy promotion because you don’t have enough experience… but it’s really the thought of being in charge that petrifies you.
Or it might seem like you’re hesitant to begin your dream business because you don’t know where to start… but it’s really because the mere thought of it not working is more than you can bear.
To get to the bottom of your fears, grab your journal and a pen and dig deep. Ask yourself, ‘What is it that I’m truly afraid of?’ What else? And what else? Keep digging until you’re confident you’ve reached the true core. If this exercise is slightly uncomfortable, stick with it — it’s worth it! Honing in on the actual source of your fear is important, because it means we can get even more laser-focused in the next crucial step…
5. Gather evidence to show that what you fear isn’t true.
Look around you for evidence that your fear has no merit. For example, say that your inner critic is telling you, ‘You can’t ask for a raise — you’ve only been at the company one year!’ To disprove this fear, you might write a list of all the contributions you’ve made to the company over the past 12 months, all the excellent ideas you’ve implemented, and all the times you’ve managed to over-deliver on your tasks.
Or if your inner critic tells you, ‘You could never start your own business — you don’t have an MBA!’, you might collect evidence of all the incredible qualities you do have, all the past experiences that have equipped you with the necessary skills, as well as researching successful entrepreneurs who don’t have MBAs, but are killing in the business world anyway.
Having this kind of evidence in your arsenal is a powerful antidote the next time your thoughts stray into fear-based territory.
6. Gently close the door on your inner critic.
There’s no need to fight or argue with it (that usually just causes more anxiety). Instead, try simply turning down the volume on its destructive words. (Aaaah, now doesn’t that feel better already?!)
7. Stretch outside your comfort zone
Now that you’ve identified your fear and turned down the volume on it, it’s time to stretch yourself. Keep in mind that you don’t need to make a giant quantum leap here — baby steps are great too!
So if you’re someone who’s been terrified of public speaking, maybe setting a goal to give a TED Talk feels like too big a leap. But putting your hand up to deliver a presentation at your next major work event might feel much more manageable.
Likewise, quitting your job to launch your dream business might still scare you, but perhaps you could take the baby steps and buy and register your domain name.
This framework for overcoming your fears is mind-blowingly effective. Mastering your inner critic is one of the most powerful ways you can make progress towards your business and career goals, and I can’t wait for you to try it out for yourself.
Remember the time is now to take the leap, launch your dream business, idea or product. There is no time like the present. So go for it!