A few weeks ago I had one of my sleepless nights. Longtime readers may know I am basically a recovering insomniac; I’ve long struggled with sleep troubles. After some major efforts and serious discipline I finally got it under control, but I still have spots of trouble, particularly in the summer when the sun sets so late.
So, sleepless once again. I tossed and turned, feeling like my skin was too alive and sensitive to everything touching it, my head whirring with a million thoughts folding and coiling against one another. I guess it was to be expected: I’ve spent the past few weeks taking a lot of risks, big and small: true confessions, putting it “out there” professionally, telling long-dormant truths, shedding skins, taking names, all while trying to keep my game tight.
In other words, I was feeling extremely confronted. And all my little nest of fears were stirring up, buzzing around. You know those thoughts: You’re not good enough. Your work is dumb. You don’t have talent. That dress looks stupid. People will laugh. People will think you’re lame. That’s not cool. Only a loser would do that. It’s not ready. You’re not ready. The usual drain when you do anything outside of your velvety little comfort zone. My cabal of inner critics were making their voices hear, and there was barely any room left in my head to hear my own luminous childlike innocent self think.
There are a few options when I get all scaredy-cat inside, of course. Inner critics are gatekeepers: they are basically voices of fear, and they pop up you’re doing something you want very, very much, but involves possible rejection, loss, judgment. They basically start clanging at the gates of your personal hell when you’re ready to bust out and explore new horizons, new worlds.
So, trick #1, ladies and gentlemen, to quell your inner critics: Don’t challenge yourself. Don’t be bold and take risks. Stay safe and quiet.
Wait: is that really an option? For anyone? Of course not. But then, how exactly do you tackle that inner buzz of criticism, naysaying and doubt and move beyond them to live the life of adventure and liberation you are meant for?