I Know I Am Doing Something Right When My Teeth Aren’t Chattering

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

I was my own harshest critic. When I made a mistake, the critic within immediately piped up. “How could you be so stupid?! Anybody else would have caught it. But you didn’t! Of course not! Why do you have to be so dumb?”

When I wasn’t heard or acknowledged during a meeting, I heared my inner critic whispering: “Of course they don’t listen to you. What do you know about this subject? Nothing! They are the experts, not you! Why should they listen to you?!”

What was even worse is when my very own critic kept me from stepping up and taking the risk of making a mistake or speaking up. She kept me from being seen, from living up to my own full potential. Instead she kept me feeling small, insignificant, dumb and most of all, afraid!

Afraid of being found out as someone who didn’t know what she was talking about.

Afraid of being thought of as dumb or stupid.

Afraid of being not good enough.

Afraid of ___________________ (fill in the blank).

I especially experienced these feelings when I worked in project management and consultancy. When I made a mistake or in those moments before I would speak up (and after too) cold sweat would literally be running down my back. My body temperature would drop so much I had to concentrate to prevent serious shivering and teeth chattering.

Have you got any idea how hard it is to concentrate on what you want to say, to make your point, while all the time working hard to keep your teeth from chattering?

How was it that I would listen to an inner voice that would make me feel so bad? Why listen to a voice that literally gave me the chills? Why be so hard on myself?! I still find it impossible to give satisfactory answers to these questions .

What I do know though, is everything changed for the better, a lot better, when I was able to forgive myself.

Forgive myself for making myself small when I should have made myself be seen; for staying silent when I should have voiced my opinion; for being scared to step away from a career that gave me status and a good salary but had me shivering with cold and teeth chattering.

Only then was I able to start healing and moving on.

I still get those chills every now and again. Now I know it is a sign my inner critic might be at work. Or a sign I am doing something that is not in alignment with my values. When I feel them come up, I stop and examine whatever it is that I am doing.

No longer do I listen to that harsh critic. Well, to be totally honest, most of the time I don’t listen to her. When I’m not able to tell her to go away, because I am worthy, good, smart, nice, competent, experienced, … enough, at least I am able to examine what is going on, figure out what I can do about it and then move on.

Knowing the signs my body gives me when my inner critic is at work, has proven to be very helpful in staying true to myself, my values and my passion. Not having the chills is how I know I am on the right track.

Your turn! What is your inner critic telling you? How do you know you are on the right track? 

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Thank you for reading and adding your voice to the conversation.

As always…

Go dare greatly!