Are You Haunted By Your Inner Critic?
Do you ever feel like other people’s lives are better than yours? Maybe they have a fancier house or car. Maybe they seem to have the perfect family or the perfect career. Their life seems to match up more with the fun adventures and happy endings you see in movies, stories, and in your social media feeds.
Or maybe you’re like me and have discovered that many people who seem to have it all are just really good at hiding their problems and imperfect lives. They’ve learned how to appear confident, successful, and happy even though they’re struggling on the inside.
In his book, Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine tells the story of how he asked 100 people at one of his retreats to anonymously share one secret about how they really felt on the inside. He collected the responses and randomly read them out loud to the group. He was met with shocked silence when he finished. The responses included comments like, I feel incompetent. I feel flawed. I’m afraid people will find out I’m pretending to be capable and confident. I feel unworthy.
His group was surprised (and relieved) to discover that they weren’t the only ones who felt haunted by their inner critic.
This story made a huge impact on me because these weren’t just any 100 people; they were CEOs and presidents of very successful companies. During his many years of coaching hundreds of CEOs, their executive teams, and their families, Shirzad found 10 common themes of self-talk that hold people back from their best lives. Read more about these saboteurs and how to identify yours in my previous post.
I think it’s ironic how society pushes us to appear “perfect” to the outside world. But it’s not about being perfect – nobody likes a perfect person anyway. Instead, it’s about being vulnerable, showing our imperfections, and accepting them so we are relatable and approachable and happier.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.” — Brené Brown
Granted, it’s not easy to go against the norms and expectations of trying to appear self-assured and accomplished.
“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” — Brené Brown
Look for opportunities to catch yourself comparing yourself to others, of feeling like you need to pretend to have it all together and try a little vulnerability.