You’re doing it again. You meditate. You read personal development blogs at breakfast. You listen to Law of Attraction audio books in your car. You just know better. But you’re still letting your inner critic bully you.
You have a loving partner, supportive friends, and even a great coach, for Pete’s sake, and still you hear those phrases - “Who are you to want so much?” and “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll probably just fail.” - tick incessantly in your brain like an evil metronome.
That damned Ego! You just want to kick it to the curb, once and for all. Things would be so much better without it.
If you've read my blogs before, you know I don’t think the Ego is a problem. It certainly can cause problems, especially since it often shows up as an uninvited guest, and at the worst possible moments.
But what if, in that wretched moment, you were just to say to that voice, “Not now”? And what if later, when you’re feeling more calm and centered, you were to dialogue with it and truly get at what it has to tell - and teach - you?
Here’s the thing: the “negative” self talk is a temporary challenge, and like all challenges you can address it in a way so that you come out of it stronger and smarter. You may think it’s “just fear” telling you you’ll end up living in a van by the river if you quit your job and quickly dismiss it.
But if you were to face the fear, and figure out how to set things up so you don’t feel immobilized by it anymore - for example, by developing a strategy to quit your job - well, that would be a good thing, right?
You see, without making a plan and taking action, even the most attainable goal is still just a daydream. And yet when questions crop up about how we’re going to achieve our dreams, a lot of us find it easier to write those questions off as so much “negative self-talk” so we can avoid all that hard work and go back to daydreaming. But ignoring that self-talk is only a temporary fix.
Your inner critic, in fact, will speak louder and more often the more you ignore it. So what if, instead of criticism, you looked at what your critic had to say as a challenge? Do that, and you’ll discover that there are very few inner criticisms that can’t be put to rest through action.
That’s right: action. I had a great coach who has a signature program called On Purpose Results. During our one-on-one calls I would often comment (because I would never complain) that I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted in my business.
He always responded by saying, “Focus on your actions, not your results.” I joked with him that his should name his program On Purpose Actions since he always stressed the importance of taking purposeful action.
He laughed and said he wouldn’t attract many clients if he renamed it. He said people would think, “Action? You want me to take action? Forget that: I just want the results!” (Note the primo marketing tip in this paragraph: Sell people what they want, but give them what they need.)
I paid that coach a decent amount for his help. Imagine having a coach very much like him - someone whom you didn’t have to pay, who was always available to give advice, someone who consistently encouraged you to take purposeful action so that you could be more successful. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Well, you do have that coach. Call it your inner critic or call it your Ego - it’s ready to give you the exact steps you need to be successful, provided you’re willing to do the work.
The catch is you have to be ready to understand the Ego’s language. When you’re thinking of quitting your job to devote more time to your entrepreneurial venture, you’ll hear it say, “You can’t. You’ll go bankrupt.” But you have to hear, “You’ll need at least 6-8 months of living expenses socked away in savings.” Then you can translate it into action: Keep your work-a-day job and build your business on the side while you pad your bank account.
And there you have it: scathing criticism is how your Ego sells you the work you need to do. The Ego’s probably the worst salesman on the planet, but it’s not like it’s going to be out of a job anytime soon.
You know the greatest thing about the advice your Ego gives you? If you’re prepared to translate its doubts about your dreams into requests for action, you’ll find that the only real hurdle you have to overcome - the hard work (mental and physical) you have to put in to succeed - won’t seem like hard work. Sure, it will take effort, but your effort will feel right and necessary. After all, when your actions are aligned with your dreams, they don’t seem like work at all.
In a weekly planning tool I give my clients I always ask them to list their greatest challenge. Then I ask them to imagine what their friend would suggest that they do about it. It’s my way of accessing their Ego (but shh - don’t tell them that). This “friend” always gives them the best advice. Everyone has this incredible resource within them, so I’m suggesting you stop resisting it, and use it.
Our society values logic over intuition so it’s no wonder that we’ve learned to diminish the Ego’s role and importance, but I’m asking you to develop your relationship with it.
If and when it suggests an opportunity to take action and learn and grow, will you take it?
Again, if you need help in your own life, please take me up on my offer for a completely FREE Discover Your Purpose Strategy Session. Find out more and sign up here!
When you comment on an Owning Pink blog post, we invite you to be authentic and loving, to say what you feel, to hold sacred space so others feel heard, and to refrain from using hurtful or offensive language. Differing opinions are welcomed, but if you cannot express yourself in a respectful, caring manner, your comments will be deleted by the Owning Pink staff.