Managing your inner critic
A strong and noisy inner critic and resulting feelings of being an imposter affect almost every researcher and yet, as individuals, we often think that we must be the only one, or that others don’t suffer very much from self-doubt. If only we were prepared to talk more about it, we would realise that it is a normal part of being a researcher. In a way, it is good news if we have a noisy inner critic: it means that we are stretching ourselves and there is a potential opportunity for us to develop or do something worthwhile for our careers.
Understanding, normalising and reframing the voice of our inner critic can help us to move on, and not be held back or paralysed by feelings of self-doubt. Here we share some insights and tips to help you to manage your inner critic. It may also help you to notice your team’s inner critics and support them to reframe and ignore their own self-doubts.
“Everyone feels they are an imposter. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and there is no harm in asking people, so try and get over any nervousness. It boils down to building trust with your academic mentor. It’s very important to ask the difficult questions, even if you feel embarrassed.”
- Prof Neil Alford, Associate Provost (Academic Planning)
In our set of three videos on the inner critic and imposter syndrome we explore how to recognise our unique inner critic and where the feelings of self-doubt and imposter come from. The videos are best viewed in order:
Recognising the inner critic
Distinguishing the inner critic from your own positive and balanced self.
Understanding the inner critic
Understanding why you have the inner critic can help you to normalise and expect it.
Taming the inner critic
Some ideas to minimise and manage your inner critic.
Internal resources and guidance
- Training from the People and Organisational Development team: Invisible insecurity: How to deal with Imposter Syndrome
External resources and guidance
- Fast Track Impact podcast: Three ways to overcome imposter syndrome. Prof Mark Reed shares three ways to overcome imposter syndrome, based on his own experience battling feelings of inadequacy as a researcher.
- Organisational psychologist Dr Hugh Kearns’ free guide and website on the imposter syndrome in academia.
- ‘Getting away with it’: Athene Donald, Cambridge professor, shares her experience of imposter syndrome.
- Brene Brown: short video clips that will help you to stay resilient and manage your perfectionism:
- Perspectives on Perfectionism: what is perfectionism and how does it get in our way?
- Being daring: don’t care what people think
- Gratitude practice – and how it can boost wellbeing and happiness
- Longer (20 min) clip on the power of being vulnerable – a powerful and entertaining look at why we should be more daring