We are often so close to our inner voices we don’t even realize we have them. We tend to identify with them and believe every word they say.
You know the one that says: “I’d rather stay in tonight. I won’t meet anyone interesting anyway” or “I won’t be interesting enough”. Another voice may say: “Why bother trying? I won’t succeed, I am just wasting my time.” And then following up on it: “I told you so”. Or another familiar one: “What was I thinking? How stupid can I be?”
We have the tendency to beat ourselves up and are often harsher with ourselves than anyone else in our surroundings.
How come we have these inner voices and why are they so negative?
I often ask my clients whom the voice reminds them of. As one of the participants of our recent training put it: “If I had to choose a source of inspiration, it would be my mum.” They frequently recognize their parents or some authority figure from their childhood who used to talk like that.
In most cases parents, care takers meant well for their children and were out to protect them by saying: “Don’t do this or that…because it is dangerous, what would the neighbours think or that’s not how cute, smart, polite etc. children behave” or any other threat that they thought we needed to be protected from. The problem is that as children we interpreted these statements in a very simplistic way: “My parents don’t trust me”. “I am not good enough”.
Then 20 or 30 years later we may still act (or freeze) based on these often limiting, ingrained mechanisms and in our head we are playing out the ‘good old mantras’ learnt in our childhood.
What can you do when you had enough of self-sabotage?
As you will see you can become more conscious of your inner chatter and decide if these voices and mechanisms are still working well and supporting you or they need to be reviewed.
Check out these tools and learn how to tame your inner critic and conquer your inner saboteurs:
1. Get to know your inner voices
Pay attention to what is going on in your head. What kind of voices are the loudest and when.
My inner chatter is particularly active when I am emotionally effected by a situation or even by a thought. I had to cancel an event recently, and felt bad about disappointing the people who had registered, so for many days after my decision I was judging and questioning myself about it. In my head the situation was still playing out while in reality it was already over.
2. Choose a dominant inner voice and describe it
I have an overly assertive-judging part in me that can be unintentionally harsh and intimidating. I recognize my father in this behaviour. When I am expressing this part of me, she thinks, she is right and needs to protect herself. “Others are stupid and cannot be trusted”
It is important to realize that these unwelcome voices are part of us but do not represent who we are in our wholeness. By externalizing and using 2nd form: “you are this and that” you can distance yourself from it. You can even have a conversation with it.
3. Have a dialogue with them
Identify an area in your life where your inner critic is very vocal. Listen to what it has to say and write down what it is telling you.
You can ask the following questions: 1. What are you trying to accomplish? 2. What are you trying to avoid? 3. What do you want from me/for me? 4. What would it make it easier for you? 5. When would you feel safer?
Notice what their purpose is and if you find it still relevant and desirable.
4. Observe your inner chatter and do not get involved
We cannot stop our inner talk, no matter how hard we try. In fact the harder you try to silence it, the louder it will get. Whether we like it or not it will continue to comment on our surrounding, our activities and ourselves. The tone and the expression can vary depending on how - whatever is going on - meets our expectation.
If you manage to just witness what is happening in your head without wanting to get involved then you can become free of its influence.
5. Identify your Sage
Your Sage is the voice of your true authentic self that can often offer you a broader perspective. Your true self has a supportive attitude that is empowering you in your endeavours.
Can you look at your situation with acceptance and curiosity? Explore “what can I learn from this?”
If you are interested in identifying your voices more specifically, you can fill in this test and find out which of your saboteurs are the strongest. https://www.positiveintelligence.com/assessments/ Shirzad Chamine, Neuroscientist and Executive Coach, identified nine types of the Saboteurs that influence our behaviour and decision-making. The Judge, the Avoider, the Hyper-Achiever, and the others undermine you by triggering anger, anxiety, shame, regret, and other negative emotions.
By using the above tools you can develop the capacity to choose consciously when to listen to these inner voices and turn towards them with curiosity and understanding. You will be amazed how this approach can expand your horizon and lead to a more fulfilling life.
Ann Weiser Cornell - Silencing the Inner Critic: How to start feeling good about you http://focusingresources.com/downloads/inner_critic.pdf
Hal Stone, Sidra Stone - The Inner critic https://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Your-Inner-Critic-Self-Criticism/dp/0062507575
Michael A. Slinger – The Untethered Soul https://untetheredsoul.com/untethered-soul
Shirzad Chamine - How to Defeat Your Internal Saboteurs https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/shirzad-chamine-how-defeat-your-internal-saboteurs
The House of Wisdom (HoW): Platform and Training Centre for Personal Growth
We organize regular evening workshops and day trainings over personal and professional development. Selected international trainers with various background present their work during the sessions. Our workshops are interactive, combining theory and practice that you can put in use in your daily life. Check out our upcoming events on this site
For one-on-one sessions, you can contact me via pm or at firstname.lastname@example.org