Hey, my soul-connected creative friend! How was your week?
When you’re reading this I’m partying it up at my sister’s wedding: running around organizing the final details, making a speech, laughing, taking lots of photos, dancing, and enjoying the company of family and friends (and strangers, eek!) while also taking some time to sneak away and enjoy a little quiet time in my own, too.
Make sure to incorporate some fun in your day, m'friend, whether it’s a dance party or game night. It’ll give you the kickstart you need for a brand new week to come.
It’s the 11th episode of the #perfectionistproblems series and today’s problem that we as perfectionists face… our inner critic. Read on for the 5 steps to silence your inner critic.
Okay, let’s get this party started! :)
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PERFECTIONISM AND YOUR INNER CRITIC
As I’ve said before perfectionism isn’t about striving for excellence or about being type A. Perfectionism is a fear-based response to insecurity and uncertainty. It is a thought pattern that goes like this: 'If I do this perfectly or have a perfect life or look perfect I am in control and therefore people can't hurt me or see me for who I really am.'
The thing whispering into your ear about doing things perfectly, having a perfect life, or looking perfect? Your inner critic, baby!
Your inner critic is what gives voice to your perfectionism. It’s constantly reinforcing this idea that you need to keep going, keep perfecting, and keep pleasing others, because catastrophic (!) things might happen when you don’t. You might miss a deadline, your collaborative partner might stop liking you, or a client might cancel your appointment because you made a typo in one of your email. Or, you know, the WORLD might end. *gasp*
Okay, okay, I might be overreacting and laying on the sarcasm a little too thick, but my point is… your inner critic is a big contributing factor to the way perfectionism affects your life. Ya dig? ;)
Perfectionism wouldn’t have as big as an impact if it wasn’t for your inner critic screaming in your head to keep going until it’s perfect. Your inner critic is a drama queen. It throws a hissy fit every time you stop following its instructions.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop that hissy fit dead in its tracks? Luckily, I got the solution below.
HOW TO SILENCE YOUR INNER CRITIC
One of the biggest steps you could take in letting go of your perfectionism is to deal with your inner critic. Whether you refer to it as the inner critic or as negative self-talk, here’s the 5 steps to banish the streaming commentary in your head.
1. GIVE YOUR INNER CRITIC A NAME
The first step is to create some distance between yourself and your inner critic. View your inner critic as a person and give it a name. Make sure it’s something disembodying and evil-sounding, like ‘mean girl’ or ‘miss perfect’. Maybe you had an evil 4th grade teacher whose name you can borrow. I like to joke and refer to my inner critic as ‘Perf’. This simple trick works for me everytime!
The thing that makes this trick so great is that, when you say “hey Perf, take it down a notch!”, it instantly creates distance between yourself and those negative thoughts. It might be just the time you need to regroup. Your inner critic is part of you, but it’s only one part of you. By calling out your inner critic the other parts of you can get back into the driver’s seat.
2. GET REAL ABOUT WHAT YOUR INNER CRITIC IS MEANT TO DO
It’s time to #getreal. Your inner critic is part of you. Fear, and therefore your inner critic because it is born from fear, is part of your physiological make-up. So, when I talk about silencing or dealing with your inner critic, I don’t mean to say: “Make your inner critic go away.” That would be impossible.
You can't ever get rid of fear completely. It's a natural, evolutionary response and we need it to a certain extent.
While the stream of self-talk in your head is never going to stop, the management of that self-talk is something you CAN control. You can manage and choose your response to what the inner critic is whispering into your ear. That is what’s called resilience.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR SELF-TALK
To be able to manage your response to the messages your inner critic is giving you, you need to listen to the self-talk. Listen what’s being said in your own head. You’ll find that not all self-talk is negative self-talk. Sometimes that self-talk is positive, meant to cheer you on or encourage or empower you to make some changes. Not changes to make things perfect, but changes for good. In a way, you can call that your inner pep talk.
However, most of the time your inner critic isn’t positive and your self-talk will be firmly on the negative side. This step is meant for you to listen to that self-talk. Don’t respond and don’t walk away from it, but just listen. I highly encourage you to grab a journal and write down the messages you’re getting from your inner critic. Do that each day for a week.
4. CHECK, CHALLENGE, AND REFRAME THE MESSAGES
You’ve now got a week’s worth of journal entries. The next step is to ask yourself “Is this true?” for each and every one of these entries. Some key indicators here are phrases like ‘never’ and ‘always’. Negative and unhealthy self-talk is always black or white, never grey. Also look out for messages that are predicting negative outcomes (“I’ll never get this done!”, “This is never going to be perfect!”, or “I always screw up this part of the process!”)
Really dig deep and challenge all of the messages your inner critic has been sending you. Is the message really, honestly, factually true? Is there any evidence supporting the message? You’ll like find that the answer to these questions is ‘no’ and ‘no’.
What comes next is reframing the message. Ask yourself: “How can I look at this from a different perspective? What is an alternative message?” This is the point in the process where you turn the “I’ll never get this done!” into “I’m going to do my very best!”
5. SHOW YOURSELF COMPASSION
And, finally, the fifth step is to show yourself compassion. Talk to yourself as though you’re talking to friend. Instead of listening to your inner critic, extend yourself some grace. Remind yourself that perfect isn’t possible and to aim for progress over perfection.
For this week’s challenge I want you to go through each one of these 5 steps and do the work.
Before you know it, your inner critic is singing a different tune in your head. (P.S. Bonus points if you let me know the nickname you’ve picked for your inner critic! :)
Need a little help letting go of your perfectionism? Then make sure to download your FREE copy of the 20+ page, step-by-step, perfectionism-busting workbook. Just click the button below.
Hi there! I’m Wendy, perfectionism coach and host of the #perfectionistproblems community for recovering perfectionists. I’m insanely passionate about helping you overcome your perfectionism, so that you can stop caring so much about what other people think and finally take on those dream projects that you've been putting off for so long.