The Big Idea
The cost of greatness is commitment.
Questions I Answer
- How can I quiet my inner critic?
- What can I do to what scares me?
- How can I commit if I’m scared?
- How do I make confident decisions?
Actions to Take
- Practice knowing when you hear that inner critic, name the critical thoughts when they occur, & commit to do something
- Listen to to learn more about your conflicting inner voices, “little me” and “future me”
Key Topics in the Show
Two combating voices in our heads: the inner critic and the voice of realistic thinking
Battling your inner critic before it speaks up with the “Fake It Til You Make It” strategy
What happens when we let self-doubt grow into a fear of commitment
The “Complete It or Kill It” mindset
Commit to show up and do something
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes:
Welcome to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. A podcast focusing on finding success and happiness through the power of productivity. Each season Tanya focuses on specific strategies to help you discover your own priorities and purpose. Season six is all about turning your stumbling blocks into starting blocks.
You can also join Tanya for more interaction and support in her free Facebook group at inwellpress.com/group, and now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, owner of inkWELL Press and this is episode 75. Today’s episode is brought to you by Blue Apron and I’ll be sharing later on in the show how you can get a discount on your first box.
I want to talk today about self-doubt. We all deal with self-doubt from time to time. Sometimes you don’t even realize that’s the core of your stumbling blocks. I have a really good friend who’s been struggling with this a lot lately and she describes it as, “being like a blanket over myself and it makes me question every decision I’m making. Everything I’m saying. It becomes a real problem and it affects my life in so many different ways”. She’s grateful though, to identify what this issue is because it’s so much easier to see that there are these combating voices inside her head. The voice of your inner critic and the voice of realistic thinking. We all have these two voices inside of us. And there’s a pretty big difference between the two.
The inner critic is very sure it knows the truth of every situation. And the realistic thinking is curious and aware of the many unknowns of the situation. The inner critic asks absolute yes or no questions like, is this possible? Versus realistic thinking which asks open ended questions like, how could this be possible? Or what part of this is possible? Your inner critic focuses on the problems while realistic thinking seeks solutions.
Your inner critic is anxious and pessimistic in tone while the realistic thinking is calmer and kinder in the way it speaks to you. You see, the inner critic thinks in extremes and this black and white terms. While realistic thinking is able to see the gray. My friend Marshawn Evans Daniels, the author of Believe Bigger, who as you may recall was a guest on the podcast back in episode 60. She talks about this fight between our inner voices and she calls them, “little me” and “future me”.
“Little me” is the voice of fear, the devious little voice that pollutes our inner confidence by whispering doubt and worry and hesitation. “Little me” is a little bit of a bully and it lives inside of you, telling you that you are not strong enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough. And we have to say, “enough”. “Little me” pretends to be logical and rational but is steet in the stories that we tell ourselves, the way that we should live, the things that we should be doing. We’ve been should’d on quite a lot in our lives. What we should and shouldn’t do, how to behave, what’s appropriate. But really a lot of this are the things that other people have decided. We
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have to identify when “little me” is pushing her way through to the control center of your mind and dictating your choices because that’s what our self-doubt is rooted in.
We really want to embrace “future me”. That voice inside of us that’s invested in us. The one that looks forward toward the future and whispers, we can do this. Or, you know what? Let’s give this a try. Yes, we want a dose of realism but I’ve always said, feedback comes from a place of love. Criticism comes from another place all together. So you have to ask yourself, where does your inner voice come from? Our inner critic, our “little me” voice, whispers to us in ways that feed our imposter syndrome and it feeds into these self-doubts.
So I want to question this idea of battling this inner critic before it even speaks up with the fake it ’til you make it strategy. Author and researcher, Amy Cuddy wanted to study, if you could truly fake it ’til you make it. Do our thoughts and feelings govern how we think and feel about ourselves? Or, can our bodies change our minds? We’re influenced by our own thoughts and feelings, our non-verbals and we make judgements and inferences based off of body language, which can predict meaningful life outcomes like who we hire or who we promote, who we date and so on.
Non-verbal expressions of power and dominance means opening up, taking up more space and showing your power. This is true across the animal kingdom. Think about how a peacock opens up his fan of feathers when it feels that need to exert some dominance. In people you can see this is moments like when a racer crosses the finish line and they raise their arms up high and wide in pride. What’s interesting is, even people who have been blind since birth and have never seen someone in this stance, automatically raise their arms in pride and triumph when finishing a race.
Our bodies are designed to give clear signals when we feel confident. We do the opposite, too, when we feel powerless or when we’re doubting ourselves. We wrap our arms around ourselves, crossing our arms or making ourselves look smaller. Amy Cuddy wondered if you could fake this confidence using power poses. Doing things like standing with your feet far apart, or with your hands on your hips. What she calls the Wonder Woman pose. Or even putting your hands clasped behind your head. Would this affect your self-doubt?
So what she did in her study is she took saliva samples at the start. She wanted to test for testosterone and cortisol. Powerful and effective leaders have been found to have high testosterone or the dominance hormone and low cortisol, the stress hormone. That basically means they’re powerful and nonreactive to stress. So she had people in the study practice high power poses or low power poses for two minutes. Then she gave them the opportunity to gamble. Then she took a second saliva sample. Those who struck a high power pose chose to gamble 86% of the time while those in the low power poses chose to gamble about 60% of the time. But here’s what’s truly fascinating. Those who struck a high power pose had a 20% increase in testosterone from their first saliva sample. While those in the low power position experienced a 10% decrease.
The high power pose people experienced a 25% decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone, while the lower power pose people experienced a 15% increase. Just two
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minutes of a pose led to these changes in your brain. That’s amazing, isn’t it? So she pushed the study further asking, can power posing for a few minutes really change your life in meaningful ways? She tested this in a job interview situation. So she had people either make a high power pose or a low power pose before going into a stressful job interview. They were being recorded and judged, and the interviewers were trained to give no non-verbal feedback. They were completely stone faced. That’s a little bit intimidating, right? Now the judges had no idea who made what poses or what the hypothesis of the experiment was. But they found that they wanted to hire the people who made the high power poses prior to the interview. It was not so much about the content of the speech the interviewers made, it was about their presence itself.
Now many people tell Amy Cuddy that they just can’t fake it. It doesn’t feel real. And you know, that’s true. Why, I felt that myself. But when Cuddy looked at how far she had progressed in her own life, she realized she and others truly could fake it until they became what they wanted. Not just faking it ’til you made it, but faking it until you become. Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes and significant outcomes. Just try spending two minutes in a power pose each day and bring your all to the situation. The more you pretend to know what you’re doing, the more you actually do know what you’re doing. This turns into a positive feedback loop that boosts our confidence and pushes away some of that self-doubt. That’s pretty amazing, right? Just two minutes a day can really make a difference. So I want to take a step back though and I want to look at what happens when we let the negative feedback loop of self-doubt fester and grow until it ends up becoming this fear of commitment.
Before we do that, I want to take a quick word from our sponsor.
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I want to explore this idea of how self-doubt leads us to this fear of commitment, because almost any commitment we make has risks. But consider the greater risk of waiting for the perfect opportunity. We’ve talked about that a lot this season with our stumbling blocks. This idea of waiting for the perfect moment. When you want to go be great and do great things, you have to understand the cost of greatness. Consider that committing to something sets you free of the paralysis of doing nothing. We’ve talked about that analysis paralysis here on this show several times including during this season. You see, sometimes the best things in life only come from a long term investment. When we feel ourselves holding back and trying to minimize potential losses, we need to realize that’s the wrong approach.
Now here’s an extreme example of a long term investment with a great reward, enlightenment. The 10 day monks of Mount Hey Yay Temple believe that enlightenment can be achieved during your current life but only through extreme commitment. This ultimate self-denial is a physical challenge known as kay hi go or
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circling the mountain. This challenge is a 1,000 day challenge that takes place over seven years which is why these monks are often referred to as the marathon monks. Now I’m going to quickly go over what they had to do but it’s pretty amazing. During year one, the monk must run 30 kilometers per day for 100 straight days. And he does this again during years two and three. During years four and five, the monk must run 30 kilometers per day for 200 straight days. After completing this fifth year, the monk must go nine consecutive days without food, water or rest. Two monks stand beside him at all times to ensure that he does not fall asleep while constantly repeating a mantra. During year six, the monk must run 60 kilometers per day for another 100 straight days. During year seven, the monk must run 84 kilometers per day for 100 straight days and then, 30 kilometers per day for the final 100 days.
Talk about a hard core commitment, right? But they’re wanting to invest in his idea of enlightenment. All of the abbots at Mount Hey Yay Temple must complete the first 100 days of the challenge. Practitioners looking to complete the challenge in full, they can withdraw within the first 100 days. But on day 101 and onwards, that monk is no longer allowed to withdraw. He is 100% fully committed and must finish the race or face death. Now, none of this is to say that you have to complete a 1,000 day challenge to tackle your fear of commitment. This is pretty hard core, right? But we can really learn from the mindset of these monks.
The marathon monks are an extreme version of the “complete it or kill it” mindset. In other words, complete your goals, your projects, your work or kill it. If something’s important to you, complete it. If not, move along. We talked about this idea back in episode 49 where we talked about killing your old ideas to be more creative. This is that same vein. When you have a lot of unfinished projects and ideas, they end up pulling a lot of mental energy. So they need to be completed or killed for you to be able to really let them go. Committing to nothing just means you’re distracted by everything.
Think of how the monks are committed to an extremely clear, laid out plan of action. They organization their lives around this challenge and the distractions to their goal are unimportant. We can make similar decisions with a sense of conviction by organizing our day around our goals, our values and our projects. We can let go of distractions like TV, social media, the internet, gossip. Just start. No matter how long you think your goal will take.
On day 101 of that challenge, those monks have thousands of miles to run over 900 days. The challenge is nearly impossible for us to imagine completing. They still accept this challenge and work towards it day by day. You can be like the monks and you can work on your own challenges day by day. If it takes years to complete your goal, won’t those have been years worth living?
As H. Jackson Brown says, “Never give up on a dream just because of the length of time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” I think that’s so true, that time will pass regardless and it’s up to you how you’re going to use it. So, try setting a trial period and a committed period. Let yourself work on a goal for a bit and then just like day 100 versus day 101, give yourself a time boundary where you’ll either commit or you’ll quit. Now, unlike the monks, you’re not going to die if you don’t make it to your goal. Seth Goden calls this, the privilege of being wrong. Where
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you’re allowed to be wrong. You’re allowed to make mistakes and learn to move forward. The ability to be wrong should lift the burden off your shoulders. You’re free to move forward without fear of committing to the right choice because you’re allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to be wrong and that’s okay. You have the opportunity to choose a goal that’s important to you and the privilege of failing with very little consequence. Let’s not waste that privilege. It really is a privilege to be able to try and to go for something and to not make it. It doesn’t mean that we have failed, it just means we have to just pick ourselves up, figure out what to work on next.
Fears and doubts will naturally come up. They come up for everybody no matter where they are in life or what successes they’ve had in the past. The goal is not complete an unwavering confidence. But it’s the skilled management of your limiting beliefs and your self-doubts. Because as I mentioned at the beginning, we all have self-doubts. We all have periods where our self-doubts are a little bit greater than other times in our lives. Practice knowing when you hear that inner critic and name the critical thoughts when they occur. That will really make a difference in understanding why you’re feeling the way you are. It can sometimes be as simple as saying to yourself, I’m hearing my inner critic worrying about this again. Push that little me voice to the side and allow the future me voice to speak up, louder and clearer in your ears.
When you understand and recognize when you’re hearing your inner critic, you can choose not to take that direction, and instead listen for the realistic thinking that you can rationally take direction from. We can’t let self-doubt hold us back from committing. Don’t fall prey to other distractions. We’ve talked a lot about things like procrastination and analysis paralysis and imposter syndrome, all of which potentially hold you back. Instead, embrace the challenge and make a choice. Commit to do something. As Jeff Goins says, “The fruit is always worth the pain. The alternative is the fruit goes unpicked and falls to the ground rotten. And who wants that?”
Just a few weeks ago the royal wedding took place with all of its fanfare and I know many of you were tuned in. Standing up with Meagan and Harry was Bishop Michael Curry who gave a rousing sermon that people have been talking about quite a bit since. He appeared on the Today Show a few days after the wedding where they said to him, “Your Southern Baptist style is so different from the Church of England. Were you concerned about how your message would be received?” And he said, “I knew that they asked me to come and that’s me, so I showed up.” That’s confidence, especially while the whole world is watching. A full commitment to his system of beliefs regardless of whether you agree with his message or not, that’s the confidence I want for us, for you and for me. I want you to show up.
Next week we’re going to be talking a little bit further about our stumbling blocks and turning them into starting blocks and we are going to be talking about how to be present. I’m very excited about next week’s episode because it’s one that is very meaningful to me. And on You Tube, my new You Tube channel is up and running. We are going to be talking about how to quiet that inner critic. You can find that at inkwellpress.com/youtube.
Now before I sign off, I want to give you a quick word about my weekender episodes. Because I’ve now started working on my You Tube channel, I needed to say no for at least a little while to my weekender episodes. So I’m going to take a little Summer hiatus from the weekender and maybe we’ll pick that back up in the Fall. Maybe not, we’ll have to see. But I wanted to feel free to pour a lot of my energy and my focus into my new videos. So I hope you’ll tune in there. Again, it’s inkwellpress.com/youtube. All right, until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. To join Tanya’s free group, simply go to inkwellpress.com/group.