Have you ever felt the claws of the inner critic tugging at you? Even women who have accomplished much often doubted themselves, felt unworthy of promotions, and experienced the insecurities most of us have. Many felt the shame of imposter syndrome.

According to the Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome is “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.” Enjoy the full article here.

Most of us experience feelings of inadequacy. We feel unqualified, perhaps even incompetent. Social media presents unrealistic depictions of humanity: perfect families, outrageously talented, intelligent children, or vacations fit for royalty.

Scientific American’s report on the dangers of social media is eye-opening. Titled, Does Social Media Cause Depression?, the article examines why we feel inadequate when strolling through the seemingly perfect existence of friends and strangers. Research indicates that some people who spend a significant amount of time perusing social media are more likely to suffer from depression. Voluminous research conducted by medical and academic professionals draws similar conclusions.

I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with professional women for years, and have garnered knowledge from their insights. One woman suggested that we stop measuring ourselves by the way we look and focus on what we think and feel.

Don’t compare your image of yourself to Facebook profiles —those people who appear confident, fearless, untouched by reality. The chances are that behind those facades lies insecurity. According to the article mentioned earlier, “People are increasingly opinionated about the potential problems of social media. Things like cyberbullying, screen addiction, and being exposed to endless filtered images that make it impossible not to make comparisons between yourself and others often make the news.”

Most of us battle an inner critic intent on shooting down our ideas, dreams, and ambitions. A report from Psychology Today says, “Most of us are familiar with those nagging thoughts that tell us we are not good enough, that cast doubt on our goals, and undermine our accomplishments. These thoughts might be there to greet us when we first glimpse ourselves in the mirror in the morning. ‘You’re so unattractive. You’re fat. What a slob. Just look at your hair, hips, waistline.’”

I looked to the professionals to learn how to cope with our inner critics, specifically Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., a contributor to Psychology Today. I am paraphrasing her suggestions, and invite you to read her full article.

  • Identify what the inner critic is attempting to tell you and realize that it’s not a reflection of reality. You may have internalized a negative or destructive experience from the past.
  • Document disparaging thoughts in the second-person, like, “You can’t get anything right.” When you do that, you can see how hostile the inner critic can be.
  • Next, write a realistic and loving self-evaluation, this time in the first person, like, “I am perfectly capable of reaching this goal.” It could help you reacquaint yourself to the wonderful person you are.
  • You’re the boss, not your inner critic. No matter how loud or obnoxious, the inner critic does not control you. Identify what it’s saying and learn to separate your positive feelings about yourself with those negative ones.

Navigate your destiny, a directive I heard loud and clear from hospice nurse Bonnie Ware. For her book,  “Regrets of the Dying,” Ware interviewed patients throughout her palliative care career. Many wished they had dared to be true to themselves, rather than live up to others’ expectations. They regretted not expressing their feelings when they had the chance, working too hard, or not staying in touch with friends.

Ware says that life is a choice, and I could not agree more. So, live your best life. Believe in yourself. Remember, every woman I have interviewed over the years for my books overcame obstacles. They may not have always loved themselves, but they learned to, in time. And once they did, nothing held them back. I want the same for you.

If you have ever thought negatively about yourself, consider reading PEARLS: WOMEN WHO RADIATE SUCCESS and discover how each of these women dealt with her inner critic and tamed it.