I try not to make a habit of showering in the view of strangers.
But as a dancer, going from barre-to-bar is a common occurrence, so I often find myself in this place of no secrets; where no leotard, ballet shoe or headband is left unturned.
Normally I keep my head down and quickly get on with the task in hand – making myself look vaguely respectable with the minimal amount of make-up I’ve managed to squeeze between my Bloch trainers and water bottle.
However, I couldn’t help but overhear a recent conversation between two dancers. The first girl was explaining about an up-and-coming interview. From the tiny bit of information I gleamed about her, she was a passionate and kind individual who would be more than capable of thriving in the role she was going for.
Yet her self-criticism flowed thick and fast; in the space of two minutes, she had told herself that she wasn’t thin enough, wasn’t pretty enough and wasn’t good enough for the job; they would never pick her in a million years.
Although I wanted to, thankfully I refrained from going over and giving her a big hug (I’m pretty sure embracing strangers is generally frowned upon, unless you have one of those ‘Free Hugs’ sandwich boards). But I was truly saddened to hear someone be so hard on themselves.
Fast forward to three weeks later, and I had an idea for a challenging new project. It was bold, different, and I knew I could do it justice.
That was, until, the doubts came along – I’m not good enough to do this. If only I was this, that, the other… then I’d be able to do it.
The chatter drove me into the ground, until one simple word became louder than the persistent internal babble: ENOUGH.
I was setting myself up to fail before I’d even started. It was then I realised that I wasn’t actually too dissimilar to the changing-room-stranger . Our inner critics were partying hard and refusing to go home.
The inner critic is super intelligent, it has the ability to emulate our own voice, disguising itself as a more convincing version of us. It is often only when we overhear someone else’s that we realise it exists.
One thing I know for sure is that, to some extent, the inner critic will always be present. And that’s not such a bad thing – it can challenge us, push us to be better versions of ourselves.
But when it starts telling you that you are not good enough, it needs to freakin’ well pipe down. Know that it can be managed.
The most effective and easiest, way I have found to do this is to simply notice. Simply notice when you tell yourself that you’re not good enough. Simply notice when you compare yourself to others. The voice will be unnerved that you called you up on it, and eventually start retreating. Of course, this won’t happen instantly, but little by little, it will eventually become quieter.
Whatever it tells you, you are stronger than your inner critic.