Your Inner Critic is a Bonehead: 5 Limiting Beliefs that are Holding You Back
These days, companies clamor for consultation time with me, but when I began exploring a career in marketing, I was laughed at for the very creative spirit that landed me where I am today.
Early on in my career, I signed up to sell tickets for concerts and events. I was struggling to sell tickets for a concert with Lil Jon, and decided to integrate a little bit of silliness into my selling strategy. I created a mannequin (complete with a rhinestone grill) out of nylon, yarn, paint, and my younger brother’s clothes. Then, I recruited a buddy to let me paint his car and drive it around the market with music blasting.
Here was the glorious result:
After just a few hours, I had sold all my tickets, and was doing an internal happy dance. But my satisfaction quickly turned into shame when I logged onto Facebook and discovered that my silly, spur-of-the-moment project was being ridiculed for being so amateur.
My inner critic went wild,
“Why can’t you just do things like everybody else? You’re weird, and everybody thinks you’re a joke. A rhinestone grill? A mannequin? What the hell were you thinking?”
In that moment, I made a critical decision. I would always follow fun. Whatever I did, I would try to make other people smile, whether that meant dressing up as a can of beans or creating a chocolate bar resume. That voice has been a constant throughout my entire career, and has guided me towards finding this career that I love.
You have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts racing through your mind daily.Some of them, like the example above, guide you towards your destiny, grounding you into your purpose, and propelling you towards success.
Others are what I call “bullying beliefs”. They are the thoughts that create doubt, generate fear, and ultimately are holding you back from reaching your true potential.
Over the past year, I’ve carefully examined my own bullying beliefs and started calling them out, one by one. The only way you’ll change your life is if the internal memoir that you are composing every minute of the day matches the life that you deserve. What does your script look like?
Here are some of the bullying beliefs that I’ve kicked to the curb:
1. “If people knew my story, they wouldn’t respect me/would judge me.”
I’ve written about everything from being laid off and scrubbing urinals, to Agoraphobia and harassment. Whatever you’re going through, or you’ve experienced in the past, there are people out there that can relate to your story.
You’ve been telling yourself the same damn story about how people won’t accept you for the “real you” so long at this point that you’ve likely never even given this one much thought, so let me give you a dose of truth.
Imperfection is what binds us. Sincerity is your superpower. If you truly want to win, you need to put some chips on the table. There’s no prize in life for best spectator.
2. “I’m not like “those” people, and never will be.”
I used to read books and listen to podcasts, and listen carefully for the fuel that my ego wanted: that successful people were either born ridiculously talented, or that they hit the jackpot at some point.
That moment never came. Separation is a tricky illusion created by your boneheaded ego. The truth is that most successful people just worked hard, gave back, and constantly went for it. It’s far less sexy than we may imagine, but also more empowering. It means that regular folks like you and I actually have a real shot at living an incredible life!
Take myself for example. I started writing on Linkedin last winter. When I first started writing, I was terrible, and nobody read my articles, but I just kept writing. These days, not only has writing become like second nature for me, it’s been picked up by huge publications and (spoiler alert) even television producers!
Did I think when this began that any of this would happen? Absolutely not. I STILL have to pinch myself whenever I get a new comment, message, or opportunity.
3. “Bad things always happen to me.”
When I was rushing to work the other morning, I stepped outside and immediately slipped on some ice. I fell flat on my butt, and spilled hot coffee all over my sleeve in the process. After I dragged my chilly, bruised bottom into my car and started my long commute to work, I discovered that the road I normally take was closed for construction. I was already late at this point, and my mind went into full temper tantrum mode:
“Why me? Why today of all days? This stuff always happens to me!!!”
I took a moment and reminded myself that I was in a heated car, on my way to a job I LOVE, and (most importantly) I still had half a cup of warmish coffee left!
This thought is one of the hardest to shake. In times of intense disappointment, it’s so easy to surrender to the idea that the universe is a cold-hearted, back-stabbing weenie.
However, if you want to change your life, you have to honestly believe that you have the ABILITY to do so. You have to constantly remind yourself of the things that are under your control, like your attitude and reaction, and proactively seek out things to be grateful for.
Your focus becomes your reality, so if you are always focusing on what’s going wrong, you’re leaving very little room in your life for what’s going right.
4. “Good things never happen to me.”
I spent years lugging around the notion that I was owed a perfect life. Why couldn’t my friends refer me to some great gig? Why didn’t my boss appreciate all the extra hours I put in? Alas, when my “perfect life” didn’t magically appear, I would go back to “bad things always happen to me”.
Listen, stop putting your destiny into the hands of friends, family, and colleagues, and then getting frustrated when they haven’t manifested your dreams for you. All that does is create resentment.
If you’re looking for a miracle, I have great news for you! You are a miracle. You are surrounded by miracles every single day. Spend less time focusing on what hasn’t been given to you, and start focusing on what has. Just watch how “lucky” you’ll quickly become.
5. “It’s too late.”
If you are breathing, it is possible.
There are challenges that inevitably arise as we age, and I don’t want to take away from those very real circumstances. But it’s important that we question and call out each thought and decide whether it is fact or fiction.
Are you giving up because of comparison? Societal pressure can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle. I once thought that by the time I hit thirty I would be married with kids, in a home with an adorable robot that would bring me coffee every morning in bed (Hey! It’s my dream, don’t judge!). But that dream quickly vanished when I found myself laid off and broke just two months before my 30th birthday.
Did the dream change? Absolutely! It’s become so much bigger than I could have ever imagined. If I had simply given into the “It’s too late.” belief, who knows where I’d be?
I used to wear “I am my own worst critic” like a badge of honour. But this distorted version of perfectionist does nothing but isolate you from others and jeopardizes your chances at success and happiness.
We all participate in negative self-talk to various degrees. Even the jolliest among us fall victim from time to time. But if you keep playing the same crappy playlist on a loop with the same crappy songs about how much you suck, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to change the station.