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Top Three Signs My Inner Critic Wants Me to Be Scared

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by Cynthia T. Luna in Designing Your Life

The following is a blog post I wrote in October 2011. At the time, the words seemed to resonate with the readers of my old, now-abandoned, blog. Obviously, a few things have changed since those days, while other things haven’t changed at all. For starters, I didn’t get the oh-so-perfect job mentioned below — but I did end up getting a job in Switzerland. And I ended up moving here, the inner critic and other dreams and desires in tow!

Well, I did it. I went ahead and ignored my Inner Critic. Boy, was it tough.

I applied for a job in Switzerland. This was a job that practically had my name all over it. When I saw it, my heart started racing, and I got all excited. And then, it started to burst the little bubbles of excitement one by one.

“You know they’ll never consider you. You own a restaurant, now. You wait tables. Why would they want a server for a marketing communications person?”

Don’t Silence Your Cheerleader, Silence your Inner Critic!

Just like that, elation turned to deflation.

He’s so sneaky. He knows all the right buttons to push. (And, yes, I know he’s a he. For other people, the Inner Critic can be a woman, like an abuela, who always knows what’s best for you; but for me, that voice is definitely male. (One day, I’ll look into that, but for now…))

I put the posting to the side and slipped on my sneakers and apron to go to work. But my heart couldn’t help nudging me to think about the job posting.

Yesterday, I just sort of said, “Eff it! I’m applying.” And I just sat down and started writing a cover letter, I looked through my CV, found some writing samples that I thought would be recent and relevant enough for the job. And he was there, every step of the way. Like an anti-cheerleader, he tried to use all the tricks. Here are his top three messages:

  • 1) “Now don’t rush this!” He likes this one, because he knows I’m a perfectionist. (When, I’m rushed, I slow down to make sure I don’t make silly errors.) He’ll make me look at my watch and gauge how much time until I have to do x,y, z… He’s really good at this.

For instance, yesterday, I had two hours to draft a cover letter and get my materials together. He was right there with, “That’s not nearly enough time. Remember, it takes about 15 minutes to get to work, another 15 minutes to shower and dress. In fact, you have less than 90 minutes! And now look, you need to search through your files to find a document! The last thing you want is to send your application out with a typo!”

So, I reasoned with him that I would just pull everything together, I wouldn’t have to submit it until later. (Trust me, I knew I was already sort of falling into his trap. Because once I push off the job, I may just end up putting it off indefinitely and missing my window.) That’s when the next message came through. (I can tell it’s his, because it’s contradictory but still effective.)

  • 2) “Well, if you procrastinate, you’ve just as well blown the whole thing already! Don’t even bother applying!” Can you believe it? I can. I tell you, my Inner Critic is tough! I continued being gentle with him and said, “Well, I’ll just pull these things together now, and then, I’ll review them again tomorrow. In fact, I might have a friend look over the documents overnight, so I have a second set of eyes…” That brought in the last clear indication that my I.C. was heading into panic-mode.
  • 3) “What do you need to bring her in for? She’ll tear your application to shreds. She’ll find so many things wrong with it, you’ll never get to send it in anyway!” Turns out that wasn’t the case, by the way. Her changes were minimal. Her suggestions were reasonable, constructive and useful. And when I looked at it again this morning, I ended up making more changes to the application anyway.
I learned that your “Outer Cheerleader”—the friends you can really count on for their honesty and trust for their sensitivity to your flaws and their love for your strengths—is one of the best weapons you have for confronting your Inner Critic

What’s amazing to me is how, when I write these messages down, and look at them. I can clearly see how flawed and desperate they are.

And yet, so many of us heed our Inner Critic and essentially live in fear.

I can also see that my Inner Critic wants me to be scared, because he is scared. I’m not really sure why or of what he is scared, but that shouldn’t be my problem, should it? And when I analyze some of the things he says to make me scared, they are actually quite silly, aren’t they? When I look back and think of all the times I completely ignored my I.C., or dragged him along, kicking and screaming, I only remember good things that came from it!

How about you? Do you remember a time you ignored your Inner Critic and are so glad you did?

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What gets measured gets managed. Amp up your writing speed today!

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