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How to Get Your Inner Critic Onboard With Your Career Dreams

Updated: May 14, 2021




A big thing I work on myself and with all my clients is mindset.


Because usually the biggest thing preventing us from creating the change we want (whether that’s a career change, role change or company change) is our own mind. That “inner critic”, the analysis-paralysis, mind-chatter and self-doubt.


Learning a bit more about how our minds work was a bit of a game-changer for me and has enabled me to keep stepping forward and stretching my comfort zone, despite all those voices in my head that tell me it’s too scary or I’ll fail!


The first thing to know about your mind is that you essentially have two (this is a massive simplification but it’ll do for today!).


Your conscious mind, where you do all your planning, your idea generating, your conscious thinking etc; and your subconscious or unconscious mind. Your “inner critic” lives in your unconscious mind.


Your unconscious mind has two important roles.

  1. Filtering all the masses of information your brain receives so it doesn’t explode;

  2. Keeping you safe.


Your brain is bombarded with masses of information every second from our eyes, our ears, our skin etc. There’s a bit deep in your brain called your Reticular Activating System (RAS), which essentially decides which bits of information to filter in and send to your conscious mind, and then it filters out the rest.


It does it’s filtering based on what it thinks you want, so based on what you focus on and what you believe to be true.


So this is my first tip for getting your mind onboard is:



Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.



Your RAS doesn’t understand negatives (words like “less”, “stop”, “don’t”).


For example, if I say “Don’t think about a blue cat carrying a watermelon”, I bet you immediately started imagining a blue cat carrying a watermelon!


As an example, instead of thinking “I want to feel less stressed” or “I don’t want to feel stressed”, try thinking instead “I want to feel calm and in control”.


Or instead of focusing on all the things that annoy you about your job, focus on the things that are good and positive, even if they are small.


Instead of focusing on everything you haven’t done to move forwards towards your goals, focus on and celebrate the things you have done, however insignificant they might seem.


Your mind will then start to filter in the bits of information it receives that will help you to achieve what you are focusing on.


In our “I want to feel calm and in control” example, your mind will filter in the bits of information that could help you achieve that, like an advert for a yoga class or a meditation app.


Or if you’ve started focusing on the positives instead of the negatives at work, your brain will start to filter in more of the examples of positives, instead of always highlighting more of the negatives! And generally when we feel more positive we feel more productive and more courageous.


"Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start to have positive results." - Willie Nelson

Gratitude is another amazing habit for reinforcing that idea of thinking about the positives and therefore noticing more evidence of them. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy or complicated, just starting and/or ending your day by writing down or saying out loud three things you are thankful for will start to give you big benefits!


So that's my second tip:


Create and maintain a gratitude habit.


 

The second main role I said your unconscious mind has is to keep you safe. It hasn’t evolved much since caveman times, so it basically wants to protect you from death!


And interestingly, this is why we often get lots of negative self-talk coming up when we are thinking about doing something that is new and out of our comfort zone.


On the one hand, doing something new means it’s not familiar which means it might not be safe so we might die!


Or it might mean we’ll be judged and rejected by our “tribe”, which to our caveman brain also means death!


I personally found this really helpful to learn because now I know that all those negative thoughts and doubts aren’t trying to hurt or sabotage me, they are actually trying to protect me.


So here’s my next tip. When those negative thoughts start to fill your brain and you can feel the anxiety rising:



Breathe slowly, smile, and remind yourself that you are safe.



The physical act of breathing and smiling helps to convince your unconscious mind that you’re not in danger, because if you really were being chased by a tiger the last thing you’d be doing is breathing slowly and/or smiling!



 

And to help your mind to feel more familiar with the new things you want to do, be or have (because it likes familiar, remember), either write down what you want (in positive terms like we talked about earlier), and/or practise visualising being, doing and having those things.


When writing down what you want (or saying it out loud to yourself), it’s super powerful to say it in the present tense, as in it’s already happened or you’re already being or doing it. This is basically what a positive affirmation is.


A super simple example might be “I love my career”.


Or if that feels a bit too much of a stretch, “I take steps every day to create a career I love”.


Or from the example above, “I feel calm and in control every day”.


One of my clients has a little vision board stuck on her bathroom mirror so that she can look at it twice every day when she’s brushing her teeth, and another has some positive affirmations writing on a post-it note stuck next to her kettle so she can read them while waiting for it to boil.



Visualise or write down what you want, as if you already have it. Regularly!



None of these things have to be big or complicated, in fact with any new habit, the smaller and easier the better!


 

So just to summarise, my four simple tips to flip your mind from saboteur to sidekick are:



Tip 1: Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.

Tip 2: Create and maintain a gratitude habit.


Tip 3: Breathe slowly, smile, and remind yourself that you are safe.


Tip 4: Visualise or write down what you want, as if you already have it.



I’d love to know what you’ve found most useful from this blog, and what you’re planning to do as a result of reading it.


Send me a message to let me know!


Jenny x


 

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