You’ve no doubt heard me reference your “inner critic.” There’s a reason: it’s in all of us and it never goes on vacation. In fact, it prides itself on showing up every day, constantly giving opinions on anything and everything you do. It especially likes to be present when you are supposed to speak – and tends to get even louder and persistent. This critic of yours is real and it causes real stress.
Silencing Your Inner Critic
Like an unpleasant distant relative, your inner critic will always be a force to deal with – but you can learn to manage it successfully. There are two main ways to successfully silence the critic inside of you: changing the dialogue and not expecting perfection.
- Change the Conversation
If you haven’t read about “yes, and…” versus “yes, but…” you can do so here. Understanding this method of communication will be invaluable to you conquering the critic inside. Think about the difference between “but” vs. “and.” Using “but” introduces a contrasting thought and stops the other in its tracks. “And” connects one thought with another – allowing both to be considered jointly. So for instance, you could be saying to yourself, “yes, you have been asked to give this presentation, but you’ll do awful.” Or, you could turn it into the following, “yes, you have been asked to give this presentation, and you can do it.” When you make this switch, you develop confidence. Escort your fears right out the door by extending it with “yes, and…” thereby transforming the fear into a statement of confidence.
- There’s No Room for Perfection
It’s not possible for humans to be perfect – so stop expecting yourself to be perfect. Here’s the thing, if you can comfortably accept that, you’ll do and feel great. The inner critic will chant, “something will go wrong…” and yes, there is a possibility that something may not go how you plan it. If you expect perfection, you will be disappointed. Yes, you will make a mistake, probably more than one, and most of the time, unless it’s a real blooper, the only person who knows about it is you. Your listeners won’t pick up on it – so, don’t worry about it! And guess what? When you’re not so focused on it, you’ll be less likely to make mistakes. However, making mistakes isn’t so bad…in fact being vulnerable can win over an audience. Check out the TED talk given by Megan Washington, a premier Australian singer/songwriter. When she opens her speech, you are immediately aware that she has a speech impediment, or stutter. Throughout the presentation, the audience watches her struggle from time to time to get certain words out, but it doesn’t matter…her vulnerability warmed the audience to her, keeping them engaged up until the moment she disclosed a deeply personal fact: you can’t stutter when you sing. At this point she plays and sings a beautiful song perfectly, ending with a roaring applause from the audience.
Allow yourself to be mindful of your inner critic enough to be self-aware, but learn how to manage it and you’ll have greater confidence and success in your next presentation – and throughout life in general!
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