Getting to know this one person will forever change how you feel at work (and in life)
My boss once asked me to pull out some information about an old deal that I managed. Oh, boy, was it a tough deal. It cost me more than a few gray hairs and grind teeth. But I got it done. Can you relate?
As I was looking through my archive Outlook folder, I was in shock.
Did I really write these emails? I sounded so professional! Confidently and effectively I managed the uncertainty and ever-changing circumstances of the transaction. I was interacting with the participants assertively and respectfully. And look at the attention to detail! I did a great job!
Is this how I felt when I was doing the deal? Not even close.
I felt like I was blowing it. I had to make explanations to the management why things did not go the way we expected them (Like things ever go exactly the way we expect them, and in my mind, of course, it was my fault!) I felt I was out of my league negotiating with external parties. And on, and on...
Now I know that my reactions were the evidence that I was getting out of the comfort zone. Never before had I done a deal like this (nor our team as a whole for that matter).
It was a big step for me. Exciting, new, courageous...
Why didn’t I feel this way? And why did the assessments of my work then and now differ so much?
The Cognitive Dissonance
It is the guy (or gal) who lives inside your head, your Inner Critic (a.k.a. Gremlin, or Villain), who is responsible for this. He/she is constantly telling you something about yourself (out of the good intentions, mind you! And we all know where this leads.)
Usually, this voice tells you what you do not have for a particular task. And it sounds like a very definitive statement. “You are so sloppy,” “you’ve done it again,” “you don’t know this”... Not what you are doing wrong, this you can change and correct, but that something about yourself makes you actually incapable of doing this. This is a very different message.
This never-stopping voice makes your life very hard.
Not only is it unpleasant, but it can also affect your performance as well. In her article, Kathleen Fanning states that “research has found that negative thinking and worrying actually decreases our ability to perform tasks. When the brain is challenged with complex tasks, negative thinking hinders our ability to think clearly and process information”.
How to Train Your Gremlin
There are two things that Gremlins cannot survive: lame light and action.
The first step is to get to know your Inner Critic and what is he/she telling you. Verbatim. This means you need to listen to your thoughts, quite literally.
Next time when you start feeling down on yourself, pause and listen to the tape that plays inside your head. A fair warning, it will not be pleasant.
Get the message and pull it into the light. How true is it really? Recall situations from the past, things you’ve accomplished. You can use my lifehack and go through some of the old deals or projects that you’ve done. I bet you’ll find counter-evidence to the Gremlin’s message there.
The next step is to thank him, redirect the energy into a different space, and take action! Don’t resist him (remember what we resist - persists), nor come up with stories to conceal or counter the unpleasant messages that the Inner Critic is telling you. By doing this you actually give him more power.
Instead, listen to him with gratitude, like you would to an old grandma who is annoying but means well, thank him, and then do what you gotta do. Because you can do this!
And if it seems like too much to do on your own and your Gremlin is getting the upper hand, reach out to me. Together we can do this. I did it for myself and my clients. I am here to support you.
Send me an email and let me know your thoughts or book a free consultation using this link.
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Sveta Parilova is a career and leadership coach who partners up with mid-career professionals to help them get rekindled and renewed about their work/career so that they feel less stressed and more joyful at work and at home. She is passionate about supporting people in their search for purpose and meaning in their work and life and is humbled and honored to be part of their journey to a more joyful self. Click here to schedule a Complimentary Discovery Session and learn more!