Life Lesson From Leo Tolstoy: Turn Your Inner Critic Into Your Inner Consultant

Just when I decided to strike out on my own, my inner critic had me in a panic. This went on for some time UNTIL I envisioned staying where I was instead of making the change my soul desperately craved. One day, as I was still working in the corporate world, a thought passed through my mind where I said to myself, “I don’t want to be like Ivan Ilyich.”

In Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Ivan, a seemingly successful character, wonders while on his deathbed if he’s lived his life the wrong way. If only Ivan had followed his true passion… I didn’t want to say “If only” when it came to my life. I felt it was better to go for it even if I wasn’t sure exactly what “it” was.

Instead of letting the inner critic slow me down, I decided to turn my focus on having an abundant life and to embrace it more fully. Over time, I saw I was attached to an old way of being that was getting in the way to becoming the most current version of me. I allowed myself to experience the death of my limited self perception and gave birth to my unstoppable new self. Soon, I began to see my dreams as things that were noble and worthy of achieving. To turn my inner critic into my inner consultant so that my dreams could come true, I went through a few simple steps which consisted of the following:

  1. Envisioning my dreams daily,
  2. Allowing myself to live them through other people’s stories,
  3. Seeing myself as being there,
  4. Feeling the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and emotions of successfully achieving my goals,
  5. Thinking of the steps I could take to get there, including getting training and education,
  6. Deciding when I would take those steps,
  7. Actually taking those steps,
  8. Making social connections that brought me closer to my goals, and
  9. Developing a capacity for feeling the discomfort and uncertainty without believing it was a “sign” to stop growing.

This firm grasp on my goals and dreams has greatly weakened the inner critic and has put it in its place as an occasional advisor. It is no longer the voice of doubt. Now, it is more accurately the voice of “check this out”. So, next time your inner critic pops up and you feel like you’re backing off on going for your dreams, remember what the American Philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Simply stated, whoever you always thought you could be, know that you arealready that in some capacity, and make it fully so.

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Chantal Debrosse is a stress management specialist. In her mission to empower others, she provides weekly posts on stress management and productivity. To learn more, follow Chantal Debrosse on Medium.