How to quieten your inner critic and nurture your inner guru
Unkind thinking does not motivate, in fact quite the opposite. When you change your inner critic to a more empowering voice, you will feel your mood lift and your self-belief grow
Everything you say to yourself is an affirmation. What are you affirming when your inner voice gets going? Is it helpful to you? Or does it sabotage your dreams?
According to research by Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, we have 6,200 thoughts in a day. Our brain is constantly in motion with thoughts that both reflect and create our reality and our thoughts then become the stories we tell ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with inner chatter, it is just one way we process our experiences and some of us have more inner chatter than others. We all have an inner voice and it only becomes an issue when we aren’t aware of it or it is an inner critic rather than an inner guru.
Additionally, adults display a negativity bias: we pay more attention to negative information far more than positive information. When we are making judgments, we weigh the negative aspects of an event, thought or idea more heavily than the positive aspects. This is also true when we are judging people, including ourselves: we notice the traits we don’t like more than the ones we do like.
Unkind thinking does not motivate us, in fact quite the opposite. Negative thinking is exhausting. Repetitive negative thinking lowers our mood, reduces our self-belief and causes a decline in memory associated with ageing, specifically dementia.
As we become more aware of our thoughts, we can start to decide if we want them or not. Challenging your voice allows you to be more flexible and adaptable.
Quieten your inner critic
When you get something ‘wrong’ how do you react? Put yourself down? Name-call? Play the blame game?
When we have come to learn to judge ourselves, doubt ourselves and criticise ourselves, we create that feeling not being good enough. Instead of encouraging us, soothing us and motivating us to be our best, our mind keeps us stuck as we beat ourselves up.
If your inner talk is an inner critic that undermines you, that holds you back, that makes you doubt yourself, you may recognise thoughts such as
‘not good enough’
’who do you think you are?’
‘don’t you forget…’
‘don’t you dare’
‘what will they think?’
All thoughts that sabotage you and your dreams.
Follow these steps to start to disempower that inner critic
- Close your eyes and locate the voice, where it comes from precisely.
- Give it a name so you can start to own her, acknowledge her and let her go.
- If you have a doubting or nagging voice, one who is questioning every decision you make, telling you you can’t do that, letting life pass you by, you could choose to make the voice quieter and softer, more of a sing-song voice. Or you could change the sound of the voice to one that will make you laugh or one that you’d ignore or one that that is less harsh and hurtful and takes the sting out of what you’re saying. One client chose to change their inner critic into Donald Trump as they could quite happily be really rude to it!
- Next, imagine a volume button for that voice and turn it down, so that it’s quieter and less intrusive.
- If your voice has a colour associated with it, change the colour to one that is more helpful, either softer and more soothing or more uplifting.
- If your voice has a visual character, you could change it, or you could create one to match the new voice. Whatever you choose, it should disempower your voice.
- You could move your voice to a location that is less intrusive.
- Finally, imagine an event in the future, that would trigger your inner critic and notice how your voice makes you feel now.
Some people like to tell their inner critic to go away when it starts up. I recommend that you don’t argue with it, because the more we resist something, the stronger it becomes. Accepting and acknowledging her will allow you to let her go. Perhaps you could befriend her and respond to her in the way you would a friend who gave you unhelpful advice.
If unhelpful thoughts pop into your mind, thank her for her old wisdom and let her know you have moved on from that now. And gently brush the voice away.
Nurture your inner guru
When you turn the negative voice down, you will become more aware of your inner guru – because she’s there – and can start to turn her up. In fact you could take time now to notice where those positive, encouraging thoughts come from and give her a name too.
If you have a quietly confident voice, one who is shyly saying things to encourage you, perhaps she’s your younger self, how about turning her up in volume? Could you move her further forward and more central? Make her stronger, louder, more assertive? Or change it to a voice that you find motivational, a voice that will inspire and encourage you. This is the woman who will propel you forward, help you achieve your dreams.
Remember thoughts are only thoughts and you can choose different ones. They are most definitely not facts. You can break any negative thought cycle by creating a positive affirmation that focuses on what you want in your life instead.
The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between a fact and something that you have imagined. Therefore, if you have spent a lifetime using words such as lazy/stupid/fat/rubbish/unsuccessful to describe yourself, whether they are a true description or not, this is what you will notice in your life. By purposefully choosing thoughts that are more helpful to you, you can begin to rewire your brain. The unconscious mind learns through repetition, so the more you repeat your affirmation, the more you will believe it.
- Today I am full of energy and joy.
- When I acknowledge all that I have achieved, I have limitless potential
- I am strong and trust my abilities.
- My thoughts are filled with positivity and my life is full of promise.
- Everything I do now will create the future I want.