Written by Josh Fisher

We all battle our inner critic. I do it more often than I’d like. Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to land a great job at Chewy–the pet food company–where I served as Program Manager for Leadership Development. It was the perfect career role. But after a while, I sensed I had outgrown the opportunity and knew I needed to move on.

As I began the search for my next position, the cynical side of my internal voice began to speak. It cast doubt, fear, and a sense of “maybe I’m just not good enough” right at the time I most needed confidence. Even as I navigated an exciting job offer to join Team Lead Star, my inner critic was working overtime. It cast doubt on everything that made me feel sure of myself. On the one hand, I knew a fresh career opportunity was just what I needed, yet it amazed me how strong my self-doubt could be at the point of risk. Fortunately, I was able to muster the courage to override my insecurity. I pressed forward and put faith in my abilities and the potential seen in me by my new coworkers.

Battling my inner critic ultimately revealed a newfound strength and resilience within myself that I didn’t know existed—or maybe the real me did; all along, it was the cynic that didn’t. If self-doubt keeps your inner critic active, here are three practical approaches that can begin to free you from the grip of cynicism and open you up to new possibilities:

Challenge the Cynical Voice: The first step in combating the inner critic is challenging its negative assumptions. Instead of accepting its assertions as truth, critically analyze them. Seek evidence to refute its claims, and question whether your cynical perspective is rooted in rationality or fear.

Cultivate Optimism: Practice reframing negative thoughts and focusing on positive aspects of life, circumstances, or people. Reflect on past achievements and moments of growth, reminding yourself of your capabilities. Cultivating optimism helps counteract the cynical narrative and fuels motivation and perseverance.

Actively Commit to Goals: The inner cynic thrives on inaction and hesitation. To counter its influence, actively commit to your goals and aspirations. Break your goals into smaller, manageable tasks, and take consistent steps forward. By actively pursuing your objectives, you diminish the power of the cynical voice and build momentum toward success.

When we believe we can shape a more fulfilling life, we become better at silencing our inner critic through intentional, positive action. Know I’m with you on the journey.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through an innovative coaching program, Year to Rise.