I find it fascinating that American society seems to be obsessed with our physical weight as if that is what is weighing us down and creating slog in our lives. In reality, I think for most people it’s the mental weight; all of the junk we carry around in our minds. It is our thoughts beliefs and ideas that sabotage our performance. I call this saboteur the inner critic. I think everyone has an inner critic inside their heads. Your inner critic is that little voice that talks to you and criticizes you.
Your inner critic says things to you like: “you’re not good enough; other people are more qualified” “you’re not ready for that yet ” you’re underperforming and you can’t do it.” Thoughts and comments like that drag down your performance. Imagine carrying a cinderblock around with you all day (an 8″”x8″”x16″” cinderblock weighs exactly 39 lbs). How productive and efficient would you be lugging that around? What would you say if I told you that you already are? This is same emotional weight we carry in the form of mental blocks that impair our performance. Psychologist Aaron Beck actually determined that an inner chritic’s self-deprecatory comments are a root cause of depression in people.
When I speak about mindset, I ask my audience how many of them have an inner critic or a voice inside their head that talks to them. Most people raise their hands but a select few don’t. In their minds they are saying to themselves ,“I don’t have a voice inside my head”… Meanwhile that’s the very voice I’m speaking of!
To prove my point, I then ask the participants to stand up and do their very best to raise their right arm over their head as high as they can. Then I ask them a second time to reach a little higher. Almost everyone reports that they are able to reach a little higher the second time. This is not good at all. Why? Because my first instructions were very specific. I asked them to do their best and raise their arm as high as possible. I asked them to go as high as they could and almost none of them did something stopped them. There was no external barrier stopping them the only barrier was internal. It was their inner critic.
Several years ago, the United Way studied goal setting and motivation in philanthropy. They divided their corporate donors into two groups. With the companies in group #1 they thanked them for their generosity the prior year and asked them each to “do the best they could” in donating toward the upcoming campaign. They then thanked the organizations in group #2 for their generosity the prior year and asked them specifically to do “10 percent better than last year.” The companies that were asked to do 10 percent better than last year, on an average, did 24 percent better. The companies that were told to do the best they could actually did worse than the year prior.
If you’re wondering why, it’s because when we say we are going to do the best we can our best tends to become our best as soon as we feel a little uncomfortable. If we have a specific goal (like 10% better) we push to reach it; often times no matter how uncomfortable we may feel. In order to get to the next level we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Think about it if you only worked out until you first felt uncomfortable you wouldn’t get much done in the gym.
The bottom line is that we all have an inner critic and nine times out of ten our inner critic is wrong. Your inner critic lies. Your inner critic’s dialogue is merely thoughts, thoughts you choose to believe. If you believe the thoughts of your inner critic those mental blocks you’re accumulating will become stumbling blocks or worse yet a wall. Choose to ignore the critic’s dialogue and instead listen to your inner coach and you’ll turn mental blocks into stepping stones.
Everyone is saying the economy has been “bad” the last few years. I don’t so much think that the economy is “bad,” rather it is different than before 2008. I actually think there are a lot of people who are happy to hear reports that the economy is “bad.” Why? Because now they have an excuse, they have something to blame other than themselves.
We let external factors like the economy have a negative impact our lives but in reality those factors pale in comparison to what we allow to go on internally. How else would you explain why it is that in the same set of circumstances some people thrive and others barely survive.
The goal isn’t to survive, it is to thrive. We can all reach a little higher.