Silencing Your Inner Critic – My Personal Experience

Hi there, I’m @beauty_in_between and I’m a college student in the Pittsburgh area. This is my first blog post on SOVA, so I thought I’d share a little about myself and my recent progress in striving for my professional goals while still struggling with fragile mental health.

I love to be outside, try new food, and go on road trips. I also have anxiety and depression which tend to peek their heads through this time of year when the days get shorter and the school work gets harder. Last week, I had a job application due and I had to write several essays on my leadership skills to show I was qualified for the position. I had been putting it off for weeks, telling myself I had plenty of time until one day I didn’t. Even when I got the motivation to start it, my inner critic flooded my mind with remarks like:

“Why did you wait until the last minute again?” “No one wants to hire you” “Every other applicant is better than you” “You’re a bad writer” “You’re a lazy leader”

These thoughts made the writing go slower, and took me into a familiar spiral of self-loathing I hadn’t experienced in a while. I felt defeated, but I was too afraid of the alternative, failure to finish this application. With the deadline fast approaching, I tried to push aside these beliefs and at least get a few paragraphs started.

Just taking action and beginning to type got me out of that darker place just sitting with my thoughts, but it wasn’t enough. I had to confront my inner critic and tackle some of these lies in order to keep going. I started with the repetitive thought “You’re a bad writer” and gathered evidence in my memory of times when my teachers, family, or friends had positive feedback about my writing. The harder thoughts to confront were centered around the belief that I’m not good enough. I had evidence to push back against these too, I had been hired for the position in the past, I had good evaluations of my leadership skills, and I was a competitive applicant. Finally, I had to acknowledge that the rest of it was out of my control, and this was hard. I could write a good application, make a lasting impression during the interview, even email the hiring committee to tell them how much I wanted the job, but the hiring decision wasn’t up to me.

Letting go of that turned the volume down on my inner critic and I finished the essays an hour before the deadline. I wish I could have managed my time better or had a friend read over it before I submitted it, but it was progress for me to at least get it done. I took action to complete what was in my court and let go of the rest. I won’t hear back about the job for a few more weeks, but in the meantime, it’s out of my hands and I’m getting better at accepting the many parts of my life outside of my control.

Do you have an inner critic? When does it most often come out? Have you ever tried to fight back against the negative thoughts that it tries to tell you?

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