I am a HUGE podcast fan. One of my current favorites is Glambition Radio by Ali Brown. I’ve followed Ali for some time now, and her podcast has set up permanent residence in my phone. I listen to this podcast (and a handful of others) when I workout because it is truly inspirational and it really gets my creative juices going.
But enough about me…
Each podcast is an interview between Ali Brown and an entrepreneurial woman who is making waves in her industry, and every episode to date, has been nothing but educating, enlightening and empowering. I can’t tell you enough how much creativity and motivation this podcast has given me.
That being said, as I was running today, I listened to an episode that really hit home for me. Episode #68 with Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, is all about how women struggle with an “inner critic” that keeps them from playing big in their industry. It keeps them small. It holds them back from fulfilling their true potential.
As I listened, I realized that most women struggle with this. I struggle with this, and it wasn’t just me! This truly hit home for me because I realized that my “inner critic” has been in the driver’s seat for quite some time. I knew I struggled with this, but I couldn’t put a finger on what it was or why I had such a hard time “putting myself out there”.
So, what did the interview teach me?
In the interview, Tara explained that as women, we internalize criticism more than men. We worry about what criticism might come our way if we speak out or if we make a controversial decision. She goes on to explain that our inner critic really stems from our past. For most of our history as women, we could not rely on political or financial protections to ensure our survival. One of our primary ways of surviving and thriving was doing what was approved of or acceptable to more powerful others. That legacy of approval and wanting to be liked still lives in all of us, and we now have to “unlearn” this and remove it from our mental storage.
If you’re not doing what you love because of a fear of criticism, you have to learn to do things for yourself, and to not do things solely for the acceptance and approval of others. Put aside the worry about what other people are going to think, and do what you love–what you’re called to do.
The Role of Criticism in Social Media
A big form of criticism today is the premise of getting “likes” and comments on your social media posts. We have all become OBSESSED with the amount of likes, shares and comments on our posts because in a way, it provides a form of acceptance. We are starting to view our posts as judgement by others, and this can affect us emotionally in a big way. It actually hinders our ability to share social posts authentically.
In the interview, Tara touches on this subject by explaining that instead of looking at our social media likes as approval or non-approval, look at it in the form of feedback. Take a look at the posts that got several likes versus the ones that didn’t get much (or any at all), and use that to learn about your audience. Use that information to continue to post the things that are getting more attention. If you view your social media posts in this way, you will be able to disconnect from it emotionally and learn to post what your audience really enjoys.
Epidemic of Women Playing Small
The most important part of the interview that hit the nail on the head was the conversation that as American women, we have all this opportunity and power within reach, but we’re too stuck in our heads to utilize it.
A friend of Tara’s quotes, “American women are liberated, but we’re not empowered.” There is a huge gap between the freedom and opportunities that we have at our fingertips and how we’re using it. We aren’t using our power. Ali continues the conversation by stating, “our courage has not caught up with our opportunity.”
As women, we have to realize there is nothing truly holding us back. The only thing that keeps us from our potential is our own inner critic and our emotions. We have to learn to do the inner work, which will allow us to release the fear of criticism and step into more power.
How to Change the Voice in Your Head
The first step to doing the inner work is to get to know the voice of your own inner critic, and to learn the difference between that and your true voice. Learn to not take direction from your inner critic. Tara explains that there are patterns to what our inner critic sounds like–it is oftentimes anxious, repetitive, it speaks about the worst case scenarios, what you’re not ready for, what you’re not good at, or it’s telling you about the problems and the lack. She further explains that the inner critic is really an expression of our safety instinct, the part of us that doesn’t want to be exposed to any failure, risk, harm. This will always come up. You just have to learn how to work with it and not listen to it.
It’s important to note that our inner critic is usually way off base. We have to learn to disregard the voice in our head, and take action even if we’re feeling tremendous self-doubt. Learn to take action from the soulful inspiring part of yourself, and not from the negative voice in your head. Create a new relationship with your self-doubt, where you can listen to it (because it will always be there), but you realize what it is–your own inner critic.
Learn to question any thought that says, “I’m not ready yet” or “I’m not good enough to do that”. Respect your callings and follow-through on your heart. Your older, more wiser self will thank you later.