The overwhelming majority of athletes have coaches – in fact, we remark on the few who don’t. More and more executives have coaches and mentors to help improve performance. Businesses of all sizes are employing coaches to help create and execute plans that succeed. We have relationship coaches, life coaches, spiritual coaches, money coaches, visibility coaches.
But no coach is ever going to be as effective as you at coaching yourself.
The main thing all those coaches are working for is silencing the inner critic.
The inner critic is the term we use to define the negative voices in your head, that
- undercut your belief
- tell you that you’re not good enough,
- make you second guess people’s intentions,
- enlist in you in self-sabotage,
- help you procrastinate,
- martyr yourself
- or whatever you personally choose to do to trip yourself up.
Whose voices make up the inner critic’s cumulative one?
In order to understand this, let’s have a little check. I want you to think about a situation recently when you caught yourself giving yourself a hard time. Maybe you filed your tax return later than you really wanted to. Or was the bill higher than you expected and you hadn’t planned for it? Maybe you were late dropping your children to school. Maybe you’re avoiding making a sales call or dealing with a tricky customer.
What thoughts did you think?
- beat yourself up for not having planned better?
- imagine the other mums or the school staff rolling their eyes and badmouthing you?
- worry about the example you were teaching your kid?
What about the sales call? Do you talk yourself into all the reasons why they absolutely should not under any circumstances buy from you…? And therefore not have to make yourself uncomfortable by making the call?
Well. I want to share this little video with you….
Now. In some cases, STOP IT is actually going to be enough.
But in other cases, we need a more nuanced line of attack. Why?
The thoughts we think create our feelings, which create our behaviours, which have consequences.
Those consequences give rise to a new set of thoughts, which create new feelings, new behaviours and of course new consequences.
And if you’ve set off on a negative track, the result is a downward spiral into increasingly negative thoughts, feelings, behaviours and consequences. And that can have a direct negative effect on your physical and mental health.
Let’s play “silencing the inner critic” through…
- Take a piece of paper and think of a situation – perhaps the one you thought of earlier, perhaps a new one. Describe the situation in as few words as possible.
- Now, was your description true or do you need to retell it without some of the judgements or assumptions?
- Ok. Now, start to make a list of the thoughts you had about that situation and about yourself in that situation.
- Pick a couple of those thoughts and look at how they make you feel.
- So how does the feeling affect your behaviour? How does shame affect your behaviour? How does guilt? Disappointment? Disappointment in yourself? What feelings are you having now? What sorts of consequences might come from entering a life situation or work situation with those behaviours?
- Now. Let’s go back to the initial situation. Your job is to come up with alternative explanations for what happened or alternative ways of looking at the situation. It doesn’t matter if they are provable or not, so long as you could credibly believe that explanation instead.
- Fantastic. Now, what feelings are you feeling about the situation and you in it? How might these new feelings change your behaviour? And what might the consequences be?
Even neutral thoughts give rise to more helpful feelings.
And we want to actively cultivate feelings that allow us to be resourceful and creative. In fact, the more resourceful and creative you can be, the more you will begin to generate an upswing in both the results you’re getting and, of course, in your feelings about those results and yourself, so that you create an upward spiral.
So. How would this help in silencing the inner critic for good?
Firstly…. When you begin to examine the thoughts and see how outrageously untrue and unfair some of those thoughts are about you… I’m hoping your inner rebel will come out and start fighting on your behalf!!
Who dared tell you that? Where did that idea first come from?
If your inner rebel is asleep, go talk to a dear friend, or a good therapist, to help you get some perspective.
So often these thoughts aren’t actually our own.
Maybe its something a teacher said in passing or an aunt or uncle or mum or dad. But for some reason, it went in and continues to play havoc with our lives. And the more we can name them – and I do literally mean name them – the sooner we will be able to let them go.
Baldy Bob telling me I’m not good enough
has a lot less effect.
Secondly, as you start to see for yourself how direct the link is between what you think and the results you get, you can start to build a positive feedback loop. Build evidence that when you think positive and supportive thoughts about yourself, you feel strong and resourceful. Also, you behave creatively and assertively and you get better results.
The trick is to think it matters enough to listen to what you’re thinking in the first place. If you do, I promise you will soon see better results and you will feel better in yourself – physically, emotionally and mentally.