We’ve all got many voices in our heads. Quite often, the quality of our lives and the quality of our leadership depends on which voice we listen to.
One voice chatters about what’s wrong with us. “You will say something stupid.” “You are fat.” “You are a bad mother.” “If that was a good idea someone else would have thought of it already.” You know this voice. Fill in the blank with what it says to you.
Here are ten things I know about that voice:
1. It prevents brilliant women from sharing their ideas and stepping up into leadership. And by doing that, it prevents all of us from living in the more just, sane, loving, sustainable world those women would create.
2. That voice doesn’t exist in you because your mom didn’t give you enough this or that in childhood, or because there’s something wrong with you. It exists in you because you are human. Get a body, you’ll get an inner critic too.
3. The inner critic’s goal is to keep you safe from any possible harm, rejection, and even any joy. It likes the numbed-out comfort zone.
4. Whenever you reach an edge of your comfort zone, your inner critic will speak up, loudly.
5. It is a wild liar. It has no bias for truth-telling. It says whatever it thinks might make you leap right back into the cozy territory of the familiar.
6. Getting angry at that voice usually doesn’t work.
7. Arguing with that voice (“No, I really can do this! I can!) also usually doesn’t work.
8. There’s no workshop, therapist, pill, or upper arm workout that eliminates self-doubt over the long-term. We can’t be cured of it, but we can learn how to quiet it and act from a different part of ourselves.
9. What works is to name the voice for what it is (“Oh, I’m hearing my inner critic now,”), remember it doesn’t tell the truth, and take action in line with our aspirations – not in line with our self-doubts.
10. It’s possible to learn to hear the inner critic’s voice chattering away and to respond to it with wisdom—to not heed it, to not believe it. It is possible to locate a different voice inside, one that can lead you to what you want. We really can learn to listen to that voice instead.