This past fall, a coaching group that I belong to asked me to create a two-minute video where the assignment was to introduce myself and then provide insight on a topic with tools and a strong point of view. My topic was perfectionism. Cue the foreshadowing.
I’m quite comfortable writing a provocative and vulnerable blog post, then promptly sending it out to thousands of strangers.
I’m also at home speaking my truth in front of audiences of varying sizes. In fact, I’ve learned that it gives me an unparalleled adrenaline rush.
And then there’s video. As a former digital marketing professional, I’m well aware that this is a critical channel for me to master to make a broader impact. My logical side also creates a beautiful equation that should be the fuel propelling me over my resistance. Video = written content + invisible audience. There, that explains it. Now, go!
Cut to three hours later, and I’d written scripts that were taped to the wall above my computer. My eyes were darting about trying not to look like I was reading a script. I tossed my script—stopped and started a thousand times, then finally banged my head against the desk in despair. My entire body was rejecting this assignment. But why?
During my 20th procrastination trip to the bathroom, I decided to take a long look at myself in the mirror. I wanted to scream, but instead I addressed my Inner Critic eye to eye. “Miller The Killer!” She’s so suitably named after my 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Miller, who seemed to thrive on my frequent tears. “Why are you holding me hostage today? Why don’t you think I can do this?”
She was thorough.
“Your voice sounds nasal.”
“You don’t have anything new to say.”
“They won’t like you.”
“If you don’t speak perfectly, they’ll think you’re inarticulate.”
“Just sit in your yoga pants and write your blog posts. With those you can edit and edit and edit…”
It went on and on until I landed my best mental DROPKICK. She was on the ground which gave me time enough to throw some choice words at her and then keep her down with my conviction. “You’re going through something. I get it. You don’t like this and you’re new to it so you’re not great at it yet. And that’s exactly the courageous place you’re going to start. It will NOT be perfect. It may not even be good, but it will be done, and you will have moved through this shit-storm of self-hate. Now show yourself some fucking compassion and let’s do this thing.”
After my ceremonial ripping of the script, I wrote the word “compassion” on an index card and taped it above my laptop. I made sure Miller the Killer (MtK) was still limping in the corner and I gave her a look that kept her frozen in place.
I pressed record. I thought about having fun, helping my favorite clients and how relatable imperfection can be. I stumbled a bit, but kept going. After one take, I decided I was done with this activity for the day. It was as good as it was going to get this time around and it was actually pretty good. MtK even gave me a silent nod. Until next time!
Our inner critic—that voice in our head that tells us in the harshest of terms how inadequate we are—provides only one opinion. And that opinion is the one that channels our deepest fears, protecting us from anything we perceive to be dangerous—even digital video. As with everything else in our lives, it’s our choice whether or not we believe that voice.
When you feel that paralyzing resistance before trying something you know you must do, try my dropkick approach:
- Acknowledge the presence of your inner critic.
- Give him or her a name that gives you a visual of who he/she is to you.
- Give your inner critic a chance to voice the fears that he/she is feeling.
- Now, do your best mental dropkick!
- Choose a new way to look at your task at hand.
- Stare your inner critic down once more right before moving forward.
- Go for it!
- Note how different it felt this time around.
It would be quite the trick to learn how to make your inner critic disappear for good. When you learn that one, please share! The good news is that when you become more aware of her, she begins to take long vacations. That said, she often decides to helicopter in at the precise moment you’re inches away from your goal. And if she does, don’t fret. You’ll be prepared to break out that well-practiced dropkick. Hi-yah!