4 Ways the Voice of a Mentor Silences Your Inner Critic

Guest Blog by Drew Moser

“Drew, you can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and there’d still be work to do.”

This simple truth, spoken to me by a mentor when I was a young professional, proved a powerful tool to dismantle the lies that were entangling me. I was burning out from working, striving and pushing, and my inner critic was telling me:

“You need to do more.”
“You aren’t cutting it.”
“You’ll never get to where you want to be.”

I was running on some proverbial life treadmill, pretending that bumping up the speed would get me somewhere. My mentor was providing me a different perspective – the very thing I needed to hear. This is what mentors do. Through relational knowledge, experience and equity, mentors say what needs to be said to ears that are ready to hear it. I needed to understand that my efforts to strive were well-intentioned, but misplaced. I had to learn that there is a healthy rhythm of work that actually produces better results.

As young professionals, it’s common to wrestle with the big questions such as “Who am I?” and “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Big questions are where the inner critic starts to really speak, causing us to be distracted, to doubt ourselves and to focus on all the wrong things.

Consider these four ways the voice of a mentor silences your inner critic:

1. The inner critic distorts your sense of calling; A mentor affirms your calling

When the inner critic speaks, it’s always to question and confuse your direction. When a mentor speaks, it’s to affirm God’s call upon your life. They can recognize strengths, lovingly point out opportunities for improvement, steward your hopes and fears well.

2. The inner critic tears you down; A mentor builds you up

The inner critic is simply that: a critic. Its only goal is to point out flaws, deficiencies, and demoralize. A wise mentor provides challenge and support, for the sake of your growth and development.

3. The inner critic lies; A mentor tells the truth – even when it hurts

The inner critic uses regret, self-doubt and a distorted perspective to get you to believe lies that often start with “You’ll never,” “You should have,” or “Why aren’t you?” A wise mentor will give it to you straight, but for your benefit. They’ll tell you the truth about you, what’s distinctive and excellent and what’s not so distinctive and excellent. But it’s never to fool you – only to help.

4. The inner critic keeps you where you are; A mentor helps you discover a way forward.

The inner critic’s one goal is to keep you right where you are, where all your talents, gifts and abilities are safely kept on the shelf. A good mentor sees all that you bring to the table and helps you carve a faithful path forward in life.

We all have inner critics. To be sure, mentors aren’t the only way to silence our inner critics. But they are one of the most effective ways for us to discover our true selves and explore some of the biggest questions in life. So it seems fitting to leave you with a question:

Do we spend more time listening to our inner critic or to a mentor?

Dr. Drew Moser is co-author of READY or NOT: Leaning into Life in Our Twenties. He is Dean of Experiential Learning and Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Development at Taylor University in Indiana. You can find him online at www.drewmoser.com

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