By Hareesh Jayanthi
I’ve heard the whispers: “I’m not good enough,” “people will laugh at me,” “I am a fraud.” They won’t stop, but to take my game where I want it to go, they have to, if not be stopped, at least be tamed. Before I can do that however, I need to know my enemy.
Who is this enemy that beats me down? My worst critic is one that lives with me just waiting for a chink in my armor. It knows my strengths and weakness. And that’s what makes it so dangerous. My enemy knows to attack when I am most vulnerable. It’s always there to say, “I told you it wouldn’t work out” when I took a chance on something. It’s there to say I’m “not good enough for her” when I took a chance to ask out that girl I liked.
My most dangerous enemy isn’t my mean boss. A critical mother? Nope. Abusive father? Not even close. A perfect sibling? Forget it.
You know who I’m talking about. Right? It’s me! Rather it’s my inner critic. That mean voice that just won’t shut up and attacks me when I stumble. It knows me as well as I know myself because well, ta-dah, it is me. Everyone has one, but some people like me, have an inner critic turned up a few levels where tuning him out is not possible. And letting one’s inner critic seize control of your mind can have serious consequences.
A man I never knew turned into my wake up call.
When I was working in New York City, a friend of mine knew a guy whose contract was bought out by his employer for around fifteen million dollars. The guy moved down to Florida to party and hang out. A year later he was dead by his own hand. He had always had the critic, but used his work success to keep it at bay. When he left the working world he had no more ability to fight and he succumbed to his enemy.
While the risk may be less for us (if it isn’t, please seek help) the evidence of the consequences of not facing down one’s inner critic is all around us. After years of ignoring mine, I finally recognized where that could lead me and started down a different path.
What worked for me?
- I piled up small victories. When big victories weren’t possible, I would pile up small victories. A nice run. A good workout at the gym. Helping someone.
- Every time the critic tried to bring me down, I refused to accept the criticism. I fought back with facts. For example, Critic: “You’re worthless” Me: “Worthless people don’t bench-press 300 pounds like I just did.” Try your own version of fighting back and you’ll realize like I did that the critic is a coward.
- I stopped eating crappy food and limited my carbohydrates. I learned there could be a link between carbohydrates and depression.
The way I lived, the way I thought, became about maximizing my potential before there were serious problems. About getting out of my own way to see what was possible. I’d recommend it to anyone fighting to overcome an inner critic. Go out there pile up victories big and small, fight back with facts, and eat better. I’d bet in time, you too are going to notice a change.