Do you have an inner voice? I’m curious to know because I read an article the other day, which said that not everybody has one. Mind. Blown. For those of us that have that voice, sometimes it can become our greatest enemy, criticizing our every move. You can’t do that. You’ll never look like them. It’s exhausting dealing with this. So, today, I thought I’d talk about turning our inner critic to an inner coach.
Table of Contents
What is the inner critic?
The inner critic is a concept used in psychology/psychotherapy to describe the negative thoughts that we have about ourselves. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t even have to be our own voice.
For some of us, it’s a voice of a parent, an ex-partner, or current boss. No matter who it is, the inner critic often provides ruthless commentary over our lives.
How does it develop?
Studies argue that the inner critic develops when we’re extremely young. Even though we have no recollection of those times, the words spoken to us by those around us have been shown to have long-lasting consequences.
Those of us who have a more negative inner critic voice have often experienced a lot of negative comments during childhood. On the other hand, those who received more positive talk from caregivers, tend to have more of a positive inner coach instead of an inner critic.
So how do you recognize your inner critic? Well, let’s look at some of the things that our inner voice might say.
- Why do you keep trying? You’ll never be good at it.
- You’re not attractive as those other people.
- You need to be perfect or else no one will like you.
- What’s the matter with you?
- Why can’t you be like them?
As you can see, these comments can be pretty destructive to our self-esteem. Yet, we are the ones who constantly tell ourselves these nasty things. So, we must learn how to transform this inner critic to an inner coach.
Turning your inner critic to an inner coach
Acknowledging its existence
I truly believe that the first step towards solving any issue is admitting to yourself that it exists in the first place. So many of us live in a constant state of denial, simply because facing the truth exposes the dark ugly truths about ourselves.
So, the next time you find yourself in a cycle of negative thoughts. Instead of trying to distract yourself as much as possible, take a second to tune into your inner critic.
What kinds of things are you saying? When are these thoughts most likely to come up? How long does this experience last? Personally, I use a journal to note down whenever I engage with my inner critic voice.
I’ve found that I tend to spiral into negative self-talk whenever I receive feedback from others. Instead accepting these sometimes helpful comments, I hyper-focus on all the negative aspects of my work. Learning this detail about myself has been game-changing for my personal development.
Once you’ve become aware of your inner critic, we can now work on facing them head on.
Challenging with factual evidence
I’ve found that the technique called Cognitive Restructuring, is extremely useful in combating negative thoughts. I won’t go into the full details of the technique, but a major component of it is to construct a legal case against you inner critic. That means taking into account the supporting evidence from their side and then countering them with contrasting evidence.
Now hear me out, I know it sounds dangerous to engage with your negative thoughts like this, but it’s for a good purpose. Let’s use of the example of my own interactions with my inner critic. As I mentioned earlier, I have a hard time dealing with feedback, especially on academic work. So whenever these thoughts arise, I first find evidence supporting the claim that ‘I am not good enough to be at this university’. These might include:
- My supervisor seemed unhappy in our last meeting.
- The last draft I sent over received a lot of comments.
These are some of the things that tend to trigger my inner critic. Now, let’s take a look at the opposing side.
Some examples of contrasting evidence would be:
- The comments she left were simple formatting issues.
- My supervisor respected my arguments but simply did not agree with them.
- I haven’t been kicked off the research program yet.
As you can see, these statements are fairer and based on reality, whereas the previous ones were simply based on my imagination. By getting yourself to look at both sides of the argument, you’ll challenge yourself slowly transforming your inner critic to an inner coach.
Finally, the last way you can deal with your inner critic is by overpowering their voice through the use of positive affirmations. Your voice is an extremely powerful tool. Think about how often you hear it throughout the day. It’s no wonder that the brain places such a high value on the words that come of our own mouth.
So, to transform your inner critic to an inner coach, you have to tell yourself the things that your inner self desperately needs to hear.
- I am capable
- I am loved
- I am enough
Over time, these words will slowly reprogram your inner critic, transforming it into a coach who wants the best for you. You must keep consistent with it though. I’ve been engaging with positive affirmations for a few months now, and I’m only now starting to believe the words that I speak every morning. Slowly, but surely, you’ll get there!
So to finish off, let’s recap the ways of turning your inner critic to an inner coach. Firstly, you have to acknowledge the presence of an inner critic. Don’t ignore it any longer. It’s time to face it head on. Once you start understanding the patterns that your inner critic engages in, you can then build a legal case as to why they are wrong. Finally, be kind to yourself and speak your affirmations into existence. You’ve got this!
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