The inner critic. Most of us have one. That little voice tells us we’re not good enough, not doing enough and don’t have anything of value to contribute. It can stop us from speaking up, pursuing a goal, or moving into a more influential job. The inner critic is a masterful storyteller who can influence every part of our lives.
The inner critic can be especially fierce in a niche profession like physician and provider recruitment. Professionals find themselves explaining what they do, why it matters, and how it differs from talent acquisition. We may struggle to stand out for our achievements within an organization where the need for new providers in a highly competitive market means one success is overshadowed by the pressing need to fill another requisition, where excitement about closing the deal with one provider is followed by another provider declining an offer.
A highly active inner critic can affect our emotions and self-esteem. It can trick us into thinking we don’t have the expertise to step forward and speak up in meetings. It can convince us we shouldn’t have a seat at the table during strategic planning. Worst of all, it can prevent us from moving forward professionally because we hear that little voice telling us we aren’t qualified.
Silencing the Inner Critic
Learning how to silence or diminish the inner critic’s power is incredibly important for our personal and professional well-being. However, it is much easier said than done for most of us. Here are a few ways to overcome our inner critics.
Awareness and Recognition: Work to recognize when your inner critic is active. Recognize the negative thoughts and self-judgments as they arise. Simply acknowledging their presence can be the first step towards managing them.
Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. When negative thoughts arise, counter them with self-compassionate statements. Acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes and has flaws; these don’t define your worth.
Set Realistic Standards: Often, the inner critic emerges when you set impossibly high standards for yourself. Set achievable goals and recognize that perfection is not necessary.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: In a world and industry of intense competition, it’s easy to begin gauging our worth in relation to others. Engaging in comparisons only fosters the idea that we lack the capacity to achieve what others have accomplished. Remember that each person is distinct, possessing a unique set of abilities. Evaluating your skills through others is an injustice to your own potential.
Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. This can help boost your self-esteem and counteract the inner critic’s negativity. There is a saying that criticism and failure stick to us like glue, but praise and success bounce off us like Teflon. Challenge that and focus on making the successes and praise stick like glue!
Seek Support: Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about your struggles with your inner critic. Sometimes, sharing your thoughts with others can provide perspective and comfort. As a professional association, AAPPR is a wonderful resource to connect with other professionals who can relate to your successes and challenges. Consider finding a mentor or building a network of colleagues to help build you up when you have self-doubt.
Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being can help reduce the power of your inner critic.
Ensuring you take the time for yourself helps combat burnout and keep us at our best.
Learning From Mistakes and Putting Criticism to Good Use
Mistakes happen. Criticism will come our way. But don’t let mistakes and criticism define you or your worth – and don’t allow them to fuel the inner critic. It is important to remember that we all make mistakes and learn from them. Rather than seeing them as failures, view them as opportunities to improve and grow.
For high achievers or perfectionists’ mistakes can stick like glue. The very thought of them can be terrifying. Before giving in to the inner critic, consider this: You have the skills and ability to not only fix your mistakes but to learn and grow from them.
Some of the best progress the world has seen has come from a mistake – penicillin, the pacemaker, and even potato chips (yes, potato chips!) were the results of mistakes. And now we can’t imagine a world without them.
Like mistakes, criticism from others can send the inner critic into overdrive, seeming to confirm all those doubts about our abilities. Before you react to criticism, take a moment to acknowledge and reflect.
Reacting quickly can be a recipe for disaster! It is important to recognize that nine times out of ten, the person delivering the criticism has your best interest and well-being in mind, although admittedly, it can sometimes be delivered in a way that is less than constructive.
However, demonstrating that you are open to criticism can lead to success. It can show people that you care about what you are doing personally or professionally and seek to grow. Criticism can also help reduce mistakes or open our eyes to ways to do things differently. We may even be able to learn something new from it. At the root, criticism is a form of feedback. It can allow us to evaluate and find new solutions or identify ways to grow.
The Path to Growth
Silencing the inner critic doesn’t mean eliminating self-awareness or constructive self-reflection. Instead, it involves managing negative self-talk, challenging unrealistic expectations, and practicing self-compassion.
Silencing the inner critic can significantly impact your mental and emotional well-being, personal growth, and overall quality of life. It can increase self-esteem, reduce stress and burnout, increase productivity, and create resilience. Most importantly, overcoming the limitations imposed by the inner critic allows you to step out of your comfort zone, try new things, and embrace challenges. This leads to personal and professional growth and self-development.