The Inner Critics and Me
My husband came to me about a month ago and told me to watch this video. To experience the same things I did, I would recommend you watch it as well before continuing on, as I will heavily rely on the content from the video:
Firstly, as I watched it, I thought to myself that not only artists experience the inner critics, everyone does! I was curious to explore more.
Nelly the Nihilist: I don't know how many L&D practitioners start off with this critic, but I know a few (myself included) who had been driven to this state. A lot of enthusiastic people tend to think of new ideas and how to improve the L&D offering in their organisations or how to provide even more learning opportunities to staff. And for most of these the people responsible for the adoption are the managers and the employees. And when they are not interested and keep acting like little ol' Nelly here, sooner or later, L&D also starts feeling and thinking this way. I've come to realise that I feed off the energy of the people I work with and for (not my manager but more like the workforce I serve). And when that energy is exhausted or deflated, I feel the same way too. There are only so many rejections my fragile little heart can take :-(
Terry the Terrified: I have never met an L&D practitioner who thinks they are great at what they do. There is always self-doubt and lack of confidence. Even the most accomplished people in the field keep doubting themselves. I know for a fact that my 10 years of experience and countless successes mean nothing when I start creating something new. I keep thinking the same thing Terry does - I am wasting my time, I am not very good, people are just being nice to me... One way to counteract this is to ask for feedback. Constantly, on a loop, from as many people as possible. Not everyone is going to be nice and the more I know how people view this, the better. One great methodology that really helps is the Agile way of working. I remember reading many years ago that even Cher and Madonna feel nervous before going on stage. But I think that nervousness is what keep us on our toes and makes us good and sometimes even great at what we do.
Nina the Needy: Asking for feedback constantly for me has always been the cure for Nina here. We will always ask ourselves if people will like what we create, how to get the least amount of criticism and so on. But criticism is a good thing - it can help us grow and learn. That is, if it is done correctly. In other words, to deal with Nina, you need to get ahead of her and just ask for criticism. And a personal note from me on this - actually believe when people tell you that something is good.
Dave the Distractible: this has been one of my biggest vices my entire life, and more so now than ever before, when absolutely all of my work is done from home - there are just so many distractions - YouTube, 9GAG, Facebook and LinkedIn, the phone, the fridge, the TV... I have never watched as much TV in my life as I do now. Also, the idea of grabbing a beer and sitting in the park eating hummus for 10 hours sounds like an amazing idea right about now. This procrastination has a few simple cures for me: write down everything you need to do, break the bigger things into smaller chunks, schedule them into your day, think of rewards for completing a task and a punishment for not and then just do it. I really like the Pomodoro technique (set a timer for 25 minutes and just do whatever you need to do, then relax), This is what I am using right now for writing my fourth Udemy course.
Hugo the Hater: I have to admit that I have struggled with this for a long time. And probably still do. For me, it usually happens just before I fall asleep, I start thinking about a specific negative feedback from a training I have received, or a rating or comment on one of my online courses, or something someone said to me during a meeting. I keep exaggerating the proportions until this feeling overwhelms me and I start to cry (I usually cry when I feel helpless). I don't know if there is a cure for this, but I have recently started meditating and I am seeing some minor improvements. Hopefully this will be the way forward for me.
Connie the Comparer: I follow a lot of L&D providers and consultants on social media. And every time I see one of them post about something amazing they have created, I immediately think about all the things I could accomplish but don't... what's the point, if I am never going to be as good as those other people. "I will never be able to learn new things", "I will never be able to develop my business", "I will never make money", "I will never help that client"... This inner critics gets mixed in with the others as well. And that makes Connie especially dangerous. I recently came across a quote that said that you will never be great if you keep chasing the competition instead of your own dream. I don't know who said or where I saw it but it resonated very deeply with me. It shifted my focus from what others do to what I want to do. And that seems to settle Connie... at least for now.
Percy the Perfectionist: This is the one... this is the little bugger that has been my undoing since I can remember myself. Always wanting more, always needing things to be in perfect order, always wanting people to behave in a controlled way so that they can learn... My friend often makes fun of me for wanting "fun to be scheduled and structured". And yes, I agree, Percy has helped me sometimes, but he is more trouble than he is worth. One of the very first things I did many years ago to battle his effects was to admit that I am a perfectionist. It also helps to have someone close by to keep you in check and tell you when you are starting to sound or act like Percy instead of a normal and rational human being. For me, one of the biggest dangers Percy poses is the paralysing fear of failure which stops you before you can learn a valuable lesson. "No, it's not about the lesson, it's about having made that mistake that will haunt you for the rest of your life, because that is all you are capable of doing - mistake! That's because you are a mistake!" If someone told me that to my face, I'd likely punch them in the face. Yet I allow myself to say these thing to myself and I do nothing in return - just accept them as truths. And they are not. I am still working on this... so I cannot really share a cure... for now!
Having these critics come to life and realising what is stopping me has helped me a lot. I am grateful to Struthless for making this video and to my artistic husband for showing it to me and bearing with me while I go through various uphill battles with my inner critics. I am also grateful to myself that I battle them everyday with all my might and passion. Because one day, when I grow up, I will become a better version of myself because of them.
Hope the inner critics idea helps you as well.
Until next time!