One of my favorite TV experiences is the Oscars. The magic of this evening is getting a glimpse into an elegant, coveted world that brings the best of the best in film to be recognized for their exceptional work. The often touching acceptance speeches give us a window into the real person behind the actor…and the inspiration and meaning that crafts their work gives us a window of hope for our own lives.
As this year’s winner for Best Actress, Michelle Yeoh, said, “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that dreams — dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you, you are ever past your prime. Never give up.”
Her words were so poignant and resonant. In my own work, I seem to be constantly hearing the voice of the inner critic in almost everyone I speak with, including my clients that question and doubt their belief in themselves and their possibilities. It’s as if their dreams have ceased and their fears have stepped in to take control.
Just this week, one client who has achieved so much, who started from scratch and has built an enviable business, said, “I feel I need to reinvent myself, but don’t know how”. The irony being she’s already reinvented herself twice, so she’s perfectly capable of doing it again.
The message I heard behind her paralysis of self-doubt, is that her previous dream has faded or shifted and now she gets to ignite a new dream…a new dream backed with a belief in herself and an opportunity to take action in the direction she now desires…
- It’s too late for me
- I’m running out of time
- I should have done it years ago
- I’m too old
- I’m not good enough
- I have responsibilities and people at home to care for
- I want a change but who am I kidding
- I’m afraid of failing
Declaration of Deficiency by Women
My client’s declaration of deficiency by women, even successful women, is not uncommon. And it’s often masked and spoken in different ways with thoughts like:
And the list of negative thoughts, words or excuses goes on and on…
All too often women have played small, silenced their voices and held back their growth. Their goal to build a brilliant business or professional life, with the personal freedom and impact they so desire, seems too far out of reach.
They believe it’s an achievement destined only for a rare few.
In the end, the feeling of “being lost” that so many women have is a detriment to everyone and everything. If the condition persists no one and nothing will benefit from their brilliance.
Worse, it is a deeper detriment to their own souls because they’ll never get to fulfill their purpose, expressing their abundant talent and sharing it with the world.
So what tools can we use to shift gears and get back to our dreams and possibilities?
It’s important to understand that our inner critic will always be there. It’s actually a natural mechanism that’s in place to protect us from the unknown and the uncertain…protection from things that can create upheaval, pain and turmoil.
But it’s also the same force that prevents us from achieving our true desires. Convincing us “there’s no way” and stripping us of our courage.
When we hear our inner critic we perceive it as weakness or a lack of confidence to forge the path to our dreams.
In reality, it’s not a personal weakness, but just a function of our minds that we all experience in varying degrees.
In the end, it comes down to how we cope with our inner critic that separates the “lost” or “stuck” from the “successful”.
I personally talk to my inner critic. Hear what it’s saying, recognize it for what it is, and then gently command it to step aside. I tell it, “I’m ready, I’m good enough, and I’ve got this”.
This process is powerful because you’re seeing it for what it is and putting it in its place, while you take back control of your life. It serves to diminish its power over you.
Another coping method I use to still my inner critic is to journal daily.
My journaling is a stream of consciousness that allows my inner critic to surface when it’s most vocal. I write out its questions and concerns and then respond just as if we were engaged in a conversation sitting across the table from each other.
I never perceive my inner critic as me. Yes, it’s a constant intruder in my life, but I’m very aware not to let it get in my way.
My inner critic does force me to assess my risks and determine my best next move, aware of all the possible outcomes. But I simply choose not to succumb to its drama and demands to play small.
While its opinions do provide me some value, allowing me to check in on my desires and make more informed decisions, I never pay the high price it wants of me. Self-doubt is just too damn expensive. The cost to my happiness and success is just too much to bear.
When we’re feeling stuck, or less than or unsure, asking ourselves questions is one of the most powerful tools we can use. It’s something that is also a constant in my life. A wonderful question I ask myself is “What is a dream and goal that really feels true and current?”
In the end, we never achieve fulfillment in our business and life when we don’t honor our true purpose and desires.
Acting to attain our dreams amidst the fear, self-doubt of our inner critic is a courageous move. Being all that we are and want to become is the brilliance we earn by quelling our inner critic.
So Ladies, if you think you’re past your prime, I can guarantee you, You’re Not! You get to live your life your way and become all that is in your heart to be.
Quote of the Week:
Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you, you are ever past your prime. Never give up.
~ Michelle Yeoh