Everyone struggles with self-doubt and fear from time to time, and entrepreneurs experience these emotions more frequently than others. In moments of doubt, your instinct may be to put yourself down or question your ability to succeed. It’s important to have an effective strategy to combat this negative self-talk and get yourself back on track. In this article, WNY Holdings discusses five strategies to help silence your inner critic and overcome the doubts and fears that stand in your way.
1. Maintain Awareness of Your Thoughts
We spend all day every day with ourselves and it can be easy to become unaware of the messages and signals our brains send us continuously. Your brain often has motivations and desires that differ greatly from our daily tasks and goals. Our brains naturally want to conserve energy, to avoid stress, and to sometimes be outright lazy. These feelings are normal and part of our evolved defense mechanisms. Be aware of what your brain is telling you, as the narrative might be loaded with exaggerations and rationalizations. Maintaining awareness of your inner dialogue is key to maintaining control of your actions and emotions.
2. Let Go Of Mistakes and Don’t Mentally Replay Bad Experiences
Entrepreneurs have a typically critical view of their own performances and decisions that do not meet expectations. Learn to think like a winning coach — deal with mistakes, understand them, and then move on. We can be tempted to replay the mental movie of every bad experience we have. This experience almost never leads to positive feelings or improved future performance. Beating yourself up is not useful for learning or correcting problems. If you are feeling overwhelmed with negative thoughts about past decisions, move your mind towards new thinking and consider some physical activity to direct your attention away from lingering negative mental images.
3. Look At Your To-Do List and Tackle the Very Next Task
Your inner critic has all sorts of ways of distracting you from your mission, and often your brain is happy to interrupt or stop daily work with thoughts of future responsibilities. Instead of obsessing over steps and tasks that are weeks or months down the road, look at what needs to be done today — right now. If you can get your mind and body moving forward on a job that needs to be done today, your inner dialogue will move away from speculation and stress about things that may or may not happen down the road and will get focused on what is happening in the here and now.
4. Don’t Hold Yourself to Impossible Standards
Learn not to compare yourself to others or even worse, imaginary standards of perfection. If every basketball player demanded that every practice and game meet or exceed the level of performance of Michael Jordan at his best, the continual failure to meet such a standard will often lead to negative thoughts and doubts. Understand your true strengths and weaknesses and judge your daily performance on how you improve on yourself and not against some unrealistic perfect ideal.
5. Don’t Let Fear of Failure Paralyze You
Many times it seems that all we can think about is what will happen if we fail at some task or upcoming performance. Your inner critic can be incredibly harsh when it comes to presenting a possible failure as a catastrophic experience. We are evolved, after all, to avoid danger and our minds are very good at making almost everything seem dangerous. If you are experiencing fear or doubt about an upcoming event, think rationally and critically about what the worst outcome could be — it is almost never the end of the world or anything that anyone will actually remember very much after the fact. Don’t let worry and stress unnecessarily affect your confidence and courage to do the things you are trained to do.