You know that little voice in your head?
The one that tells you that you can’t do something. That you will surely fail. That people will laugh at you. That you’re never going to be good enough?
I’d love to tell you that I have the secrets to eradicating it once and for all but it would seem that – regardless of your success – that little voice is part of who you are.
The ego, inner critic, inner mean girl, whatever you choose to call it, it’s probably here to stay.
The good news?
You get to choose how it affects you.
What decisions you make because of it.
Or how you use what it has to say for good instead of soul-destroying evil.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about dealing with your inner meanie.
There are two voices in there (one might just be hiding)
You might not realise this because that inner critic is dialled up to 11, but there’s another voice who is your biggest cheerleader, that little whisper of hope in amongst the self doubt and criticism.
Often referred to as the inner guide, inner mentor, or highest self, this voice is the angel to the little inner critic devil on your shoulder. This is the part of you who has hopes and dreams and actually truly believes that you are capable of everything.
This is the voice you want to hear more of.
Just knowing that there are two voices is a great start. Then you can start to choose which one you listen to.
Your mind is like a muscle
The negative mind is just another bad habit, like eating a block of chocolate every day, or binging on fast food. That voice knows your weaknesses, it’s like the ultimate frenemy. It makes backhanded complements or subtle criticisms that you may not even notice. An underlying current of negative comments that you have probably become used to hearing.
So train yourself to see the negative AND the positive influences in your head.
If your inner meanie has been leading the charge for a while, chances are the inner guide or cheerleader will be buried deep down.
And it’s up to you how you do it. If you want big results or you need extra help, a coach is the equivalent to a personal trainer. If you want to start slow with a daily walk around the block for your fitness, getting into a practise of meditation or journalling will be the mind equivalent.
Observe your thoughts, be mindful of where they’re coming from, and you will start to see what that inner voice is telling you (and then you can decide if you want to believe it).
Use that protector voice to check in with yourself
So often it’s said that the inner critic must be destroyed, silenced, or abolished but, when threatened, that ego-based voice will fight for its survival, just as it would step in if you were being attacked by a bear.
Instead of fighting it, accept that this voice is a part of who you are. It’s been with you for a long time and is made up of your experiences and belief systems.
That doesn’t mean it’s right.
But it may sometimes have something of use to say.
It will pipe up and question why you’re doing something perceivably risky. Taking a second to tune in and ask that voice what message it has for you is a simple way to acknowledge the fear, and then decide your next course of action.
Next time your inner critic speaks up, instead of fuelling the negativity, try and be objective. What is it trying to tell you? Ask and then make a decision whether to listen or not. It’s up to you. You are in control (but, every now and then, it might just have something of value to add).
Share with someone you trust
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown discusses the idea of being brave to be vulnerable with someone who has earned your trust. Someone who will be kind and compassionate with your deep thoughts.
Whether it’s a close friend, a family member, or a coach (or somebody else you hire), a great way to ease that inner critic is by sharing your fears. This stops a hate spiral of negative thinking in its tracks and, while it might be challenging at first to believe someone’s positive feedback, it’s often easier to trust someone else than yourself.
Who’s in your inner circle? Have you looked at your close relationships lately (if not, check out this post)? Share some of your fears, invite them into your vulnerable space and trust that sharing your inner chatter will allow you space to question it.
Not ready to share yet, journalling is a great way to ease into it.
Learn to see when your inner critic is keeping you small, and question it.
Once you’ve trained your inner voice muscles and got into some good habits of listening, paying attention and moving on, you will start to see when you’re letting it take the wheel and drive you back into that hole.
That’s not to say you’re not going to have blah days, but it will mean that you’ll be aware of it. You’ll have the opportunity to stop it in its tracks. And you’ll be able to decide whether to keep continuing down that path or make a different choice.
It’s up to you. When you are working towards a goal or an achievement, your inner critic may (read: will) try to sabotage it. It will try to keep you small and tell you that you don’t deserve it. But you have the ability to question it.
Ask yourself why you think that.
Ask yourself if it’s actually true.
Ask yourself if you’re going to let that stop your, or if you’d rather prove that voice wrong.
Because, at the end of the day, that voice is part of you.
Trying to attack it back means that you are simply attacking yourself.
But if you can ‘kill it with kindness’ and treat this part of yourself with compassion, understanding, letting it be heard, and then letting it go, you will be able to work with it instead of against it.
How do you deal with the little voice in your head? Share below if you’ve used any of the above (or have any other advice).
Know someone who really needs this right now? Why not share it with them and earn some endless gratitude from me in the process!