Why Your Inner Critics Block Your Adventures
When was the last time you threw caution to the wind, stood up to your fears, and did something a little risky?
If it’s been a while and you’re dying for a little adventure, then it’s time to start examining the reasons why you’ve been staying on the sidelines of your life!
While there could be a number of reasons, I’m betting the primary factor underlying all of those reasons is one you may not have considered: your Inner Critic.
Your Inner Critic(s) is that little voice inside you that tells you not to take that chance and to play it safe. It’s the reason you’re a tad averse to taking any risk in your life!
You may not be aware this is even happening within yourself, but everyone walking on this planet has to battle these Inner Critics daily.
The thing about these Critics is that they’re here to protect you and they come from a place of love, but sadly, they’re not as privy to all the details or aware of your amazing capabilities, so they limit your capacity to see those as well.
Aside from simply scaring you off what you’re dying to try, they’re also crafty enough to underlie the “I don’t have time” excuse! It’ll tell you anything to keep you from diverging from the safe and familiar, even if that means it has to make you feel like you’re way too busy.
As you navigate your midlife transition, your Inner Critics rule the roost, and you stay stuck in the Midlife Muck (which is precisely where they want you to stay!).
Because of this, you fail to see opportunities for shaking things up, and you ignore new paths. When it comes to activating your adventurous side, the Inner Critics will do everything in their power to keep you on the sidelines.
How Inner Critics Try to Tone Down our Adventures
Being adventurous, by definition, means doing something that feels exciting, or thrilling. It typically means getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
But, when faced with an exciting new opportunity, your Inner Critic stands up and starts yelling out some toxic messages to get you to avoid, take cover, and retreat!
“You don’t have time for this”
“There are more important things you should be doing”
“Who are you to want to try something new?”
“You’ll look like an idiot!”
“What will other people think of me?”
“You’re too old to try that!”
Adventure for the sake of fun, may not get the Critics super active unless you’re facing a BIG fear (i.e., you’re afraid of heights, and you’re about to attempt zip-lining!). But, if you’re using adventure to figure out new options for your life, and discover your purpose, find new friends, start dating, etc. your Inner Critics will become hyperactive.
This is because creating new relationships, finding a new career, or venturing into any territory that potentially provides more meaning in your life means opening the door to vulnerability.
The more vulnerable you are, the more potential for getting hurt. In these situations, your Inner Critics feel they must rise up, warn you of all the possible outcomes (i.e., worst case scenarios), and do whatever it takes to keep you from flexing your adventurous muscles!
It means well, but to believe it’s messages and pull back on your actions means you are limiting yourself and your life.
Why you need to Ignore those Inner Critics
Exploring your adventurous side provides SO many benefits to your life, which is why you need to wrestle control back from those Critics. Doing so allows you to embrace and awaken your adventurous side to take advantage of these benefit:
Keeps you younger: By being adventurous, you’re laughing, you’re firing at all cylinders, your blood is pumping, you’re fully engaged. In other words, you’re at your peak in aliveness.
Allows you to grow: By trying new things, challenging your skills, and facing fears, you grow as humans. You can’t stagnate if you’re regularly engaging in activities that make you expand beyond your perceived limits.
It’s THE key to getting unstuck: Feeling stuck in the Midlife Muck? Well, then you have to try new things to get unstuck since what you’re used to is no longer doing it for you. The key aspect of adventure is trying new things, so by being adventurous, you’re exploring how you can get unstuck and find (or revive) your purpose in life.
It’s fun!: Engaging in adventure is the fun part of life! It’s the let-your-hair-down-and-shake-things-up part of life. Everyone deserves to have a little fun!
How to identify and “fix” your Inner Critic
The process of “fixing” your Inner Critic involves getting to know your Critic. It’s not about getting rid of it or ignoring it (neither of which is possible!).
Your Inner Critic is a part of you, and it’s one that needs attention. So, if you’re ready to heal your relationship with yourself and tame those Inner Critic voices, try the four following steps to reconnect with yourself in a new way to partner with your Critics:
#1 | Recognize the Inner Critic
To understand the fear underlying their message and to give them the attention they crave, you have to pay attention to the words they’re telling you. If the message doesn’t feel right, or you know it not to be true, then you’ve identified the Critic, so pause and call them out: “Hey, nervous Nelly - I see you, and I hear you.”
#2 | Personify the Inner Critic
Your Inner Critic(s) is part of you, but it’s not YOU. You don’t have to do everything it tells you to do! You know what’s better for you and what you’re capable of achieving. To help separate yourself from this Inner Critic energy, give it a name, imagine what it looks like, determine what it’s personality would be. The more you can turn that Inner Critic into a “person,” the more you can see it as something detached from you. You can then call it out when it’s too loud, reason with it, and overrule its mission.
#3 | Keep an Inner Critic journal
The messages of your Inner Critic(s) are likely so woven into your thoughts; you don’t even realize all of the words or variety of ways they keep you in line. What can be extremely helpful is to jot down all the messages your Inner Critic tells you daily. After a week or so, evaluate what they tell you and look for trends and patterns. Knowledge is power and the more insight you have in how your Inner Critics behave, the more control you’ll have over them.
#4 | Start small
The more you prove your Inner Critic wrong, the more latitude it will give you. Also, your confidence builds so that you know you’re more capable than the Inner Critic gives you credit, so you’re more likely to hear those voices, but do what you want anyway. To challenge those critical voices, start with something small, savor the success of doing something that seemed scary, and up the ante with the next activity.
By learning your Inner Critics and their unique message, you’ll uncover your underlying fears, which allows you to release those fears and enjoy bigger and bolder adventures!
Adventure is a key part of the enjoyment of life and the ability to grow and evolve. If you listen to those Inner Critics and let them keep you super safe, you’ll stay stuck in a life that feels boring, meaningless, and empty.
By hearing those Inner Critic messages, and doing what you want to do anyway, you take control of your life and expand your quality of life beyond your imagination.