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Is Your Inner Critic Holding Your Career Back?

Everyone has an inner critic offering unsolicited opinions on their worth and work. Are you your own worst enemy? Here's how to succeed despite the harsh judgy voice in your head:

Analyze your self-talk

Be conscious of negative self-talk. It's human nature to doubt yourself, but don't let your inner voice badger, berate, shame or belittle you.

Make a purposeful effort to engage in positive self-talk. Learn how to speak to yourself in ways that psych you up, keep you calm, or boost your confidence.

Talk back to your inner critic. When it tells you to feel anxious, thank it for the reminder to breathe or pause. If it says you're undeserving, tell it you've earned what you have. Actively countering negative self-talk with positive messaging is an effective and healthy practice.

Resist imposter syndrome

If insecurities about being good enough affect your career, you may suffer from "imposter syndrome": a psychological phenomenon that makes you feel inadequate or like a fraud despite achievements.

As with self-talk, it takes a conscious effort to recognize this mental sabotage and a proactive approach to counter it.

Acknowledge and celebrate your capabilities: You did not get where you are because of dumb luck. You are absolutely worthy of this opportunity. You are qualified enough to apply for this job and get it. You know what you are doing.

Apply anyway

Dr. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, says, "People will look at a list of job qualifications and even if they have eight of ten, they won't apply. You don't have to know how to do all of it. You just need to know 40%. The rest you can learn on the job."

If you feel slightly unqualified for a job you want-apply anyway. It may well be that the expertise you do have is more important or that personal attributes make you an ideal candidate.

All jobs require you to learn in the position. Don't expect yourself to be 100% qualified-know that you can build upon your existing experience once you have the role.

Seek internal validation

Nurturing inner confidence will lessen your dependence on external validation like the opinions of others, praise, and even job offers. Not getting a job you've applied for or wanted does not invalidate you.

Similarly, trust your own feelings. Maybe you feel relieved you didn't get a position but others imply you should be disappointed. Validating from within means you are able to be honest with yourself and not rely on the viewpoints of others to affect how you act or make choices.

Be present-minded

Focus your energy on now. Worrying about the future and agonizing over the past is counterproductive and can feed negative narratives.

If you apply for a full-time position but don't get it, don't extrapolate that you never will. If you left a job a few years ago and wonder if your career would be better if you hadn't-stop. You can't go back and change that decision, so why waste energy imagining a different sequence of events?

Focusing on the present can reduce anxiety, regret, and the judgements and drama of your inner critic.

Learn to reframe

Every facet of a situation can be viewed in more than one way. Learning to reframe a concerning issue can turn a judgement into learning, and a negative into a positive.

It can be frustrating and even scary when your job search feels seemingly endless. So, reframe it: The process is slow but that's because finding the right fit takes time.

If an opportunity feels daunting because it's beyond your experience, reframe your perspective: It's more advanced than jobs you've had but now is the right time to push yourself. It's not unattainable; it's a growth opportunity.

Another Man's Treasure

Preconceived judgements about your value and worth can backfire. Like the adage about "one man's trash," many attributes and skills are more subjective than you may realize.

You might not value your communication style and think you aren't articulate-yet a manager may find you clear and concise. Where you may see yourself as being inexperienced, an employer may see you as open to learning.

Manage your inner critic

Trying to stifle your inner critic is self-defeating. It's more effective to understand and manage it.

Whose voice is it anyway? Is it parroting criticism from your childhood? Is it the scared you, the clumsy you, the rejected you-but not the whole you? Acknowledging who that critic is can help you overcome it.

Learn from it. Does it chastise you for hiding in the background? Thank it for the reminder to step up and be seen. Does it judge you for sounding stupid? Tell it you appreciate acknowledgement that you've spoken up, because your questions have merit.

Your inner critic will never be silenced, but you can ensure it does not hold you back.

Need help moving past your inner critic?

A staffing recruiter can help you:

  • assess your skills and strengths
  • understand your worth in today's job market
  • polish your interview skills to boost your confidence
  • and connect with job opportunities that are a great fit

Contact your local staffing recruiter today!