“Just believe in yourself!”
“You can do it!”
“If you can dream it, you can achieve it!”
These are all cliched axioms of the self development industry that you’ll never hear from me, except in a sarcastic sense.
New’s flash: Self doubt, uncertainty and all forms of entrepreneurial stomach butterflies are incredible useful. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re crucial to business success.
Most people have been taught to ignore their inner critic – to put a mental mute on the dialogue that picks away at your hopes and dreams. Hitting the mute button is a huge mistake. Here’s why…
The power of your intuition
There’s a disturbing trend in the western world, that probably kicked off around the time that Plato started advocating the supremacy of (cold, calculating) logic over the emotional, tumultuous intuitive mind.
People started paying less and less attention to the emotional signals their unconscious mind created. After all, emotion couldn’t be described within the “logic” framework – so it probably wasn’t worth paying attention to.
When we made the culture decision to honor logic above our emotional intelligence, an enemy was created.
The inner voice that wields enormous emotional power became a “bad guy” – it was the biggest obstacle between us and the totally dispassionate decision making we desired.
To this day, our “heart” gets in the way of logic and plays havoc with decision making. When we think we have things logically sorted out, this ancient and forgotten part of us throws a spanner in the works, sending butterflies of uncertainty dancing through our stomach.
For entrepreneurs, this results in a crippling sense of indecision. It’s like being tugged in two different directions at once – on the one hand, decision X makes “sense” but something doesn’t feel right. That little voice behind your eyes just won’t shut up.
The cliched “believe in yourself” mantras are our pathetic attempt to combat the inner dialogue. We try to hurl these affirmations at this dark, doubting part of ourselves in an attempt to silence it.
Thing is, the inner voice that sows the seeds of emotional uncertainty is actually a part of us. It’s a part of YOU.
That means that it abides by a few rules: It cares about you (because it is you). It wants you to be happy and safe (because it is you). It even wants you to be successful (because… it is part of YOU!).
The most nasty, disgusting forms of self sabotaging dialogue all come from a part of you. For some (many!) people, this part has the capability to be truly vicious. When it tells you you’re not good enough, it really doesn’t hold back!
My observation has been that the people with the biggest lack of rapport with their unconscious/intuitive self are the ones who have the most vicious, negative internal dialogue.
Why? Because they’ve been trying to turn down the volume on a legitimate, caring part of themselves for so long that they’ve left that part no other choice. It has to shout or it won’t be heard at all.
Your inner critic serves a crucial purpose
The job of the inner critic is to criticize. It’s there to pick apart your ridiculous dreams. It’s there to make you work hard – to take fluffy, half-baked ideas and turn them into something tangible and real.
Why do so many entrepreneurs seem to wrestle with self doubt and inner criticisms? Because they’re so out of touch with their intuition that it has to yell (and insult) to be heard… and because they don’t act on the criticism even when they do finally get the message.
Let’s say a smart friend of yours, who knows your situation (and dreams) inside and out, tells you she’s not so sure about your latest great idea.
Normally, you’d work hard to assure her she’s wrong – either by articulating yourself better (more clarity) or changing the game plan to eliminate the obstacle she pointed out (better strategy).
Makes sense, right?
“She” is your intuition.
For someone with a quality, healthy rapport with their unconscious mind… this is what it’s like. They have a part of themselves, deeply connected to their values and goals, that occasional pipes up with an emotional signal (or bit of internal chatter) to say “uh oh… this ship might not be heading where you want it to go”.
The clever entrepreneur pays attention to this feedback and then immediately seeks better (internal) clarity or (external) strategy.
Yet most people steamroll over this experience. They say “no, that’s just BS self doubt – I just need to believe in myself! Where’s a Nike billboard when I need it?!”
Your intuitive mind is pretty damn smart. For starters, it pays a whole lot more attention to your external world than you do. It sees things coming miles before your rational mind does. It’s intuitive!
Keep ignoring these timely, highly attuned pieces of emotional feedback and your unconscious mind will start to get seriously concerned for your safety. It’ll begin yelling at you, trying to slam on the breaks. It’s ammunition is fear.
The more you ignore your inner critic, the louder and more painfully it yells. The more it starts sounding like an enemy. Truth is, branding it as a bad guy is just sloppy thinking. It’s actually easier for many people to demonize their intuitive mind than it is for them to accept, act on and grow from the criticism that it offers.
I’ve met entrepreneurs who’s inner critic has said:
- You don’t have the expertise to pull this off
- Your sales strategy is half baked
- What you’re doing isn’t differentiated enough – there’s hundreds exactly like you
… and every time, the inner critic has been right.
Thing is, these are all temporary problems. They can all be fixed. Developing a better sales strategy is a good idea but it’s easier to write off this emotional feedback as “self sabotage” when you’re trying to avoid doing hard work. Or worse, when you secretly don’t want to succeed because it’s safer not to.
There are very few inner criticisms that can’t be fixed through action.
Imagine having a coach and cheerleader who gently pointed you toward improving your capabilities so that you could be more successful. Wouldn’t that be cool? Some people pay good money for that sort of coach. Your intuition will do it for you – if you allow it.
The down side?
- You won’t get rich fast – developing real capabilities takes time.
- You’ll have to work hard. Really hard.
- You’ll have to do something remarkable, not something “good enough”.
- Your intuition will KNOW (and tell you) whenever you try to shortcut any of the above.
Imagine if, every time a part of you said “you’re not good enough” you went and took action to become better. How quickly (and vastly) would you grow?
If you haven’t achieved the things you want in life and business, I think it’s worth being radically honest with yourself. You don’t yet have the capabilities to get where you want to be – if you did, you’d already be there! However, you can learn them.
Your inner critic is (and always has been) a mental coach, if you’ll just stop “believing in yourself” long enough to let it do it’s job. It has unbelievably high expectations for your success and a long to-do list of character, capability and business building tasks for you.
Don’t you wish you had a friend who knew you so well they could, with total integrity, tell you when you’re bullshitting yourself, need to up your game and stop messing around?
That’s what self doubt is and it’s what your inner critic is for. You have an incredible resource within you, so I’m suggesting you stop fighting it and use it.
This is a paradigm shift. It requires you to let go of the baggage created by years of conflict with your intuitive self. It requires you to get closure on any self-worth trauma in your past. It’s not easy, but game changing paradigm shift’s seldom are.
Are you willing to use inner criticism to grow?
Are you ready to stop believing in yourself and start proving yourself?