Right now as you’re reading this, there’s a voice in your head talking out these words. Can you hear it?
Even when you stop reading, you may find that the voice keeps talking. Let’s try it for a moment. Stop reading, close your eyes and have a listen to what that voice might say….
(Go on, really do it)
What did you hear? Was there a running commentary? An endless stream of words? Or was there silence?
Could you notice the quality of that voice. Was it curious and friendly? Was it judgmental and mean?
For many of us, the voice inside our head is a bit of an A-hole. It is unpredictable, needy, and incessant. Not only does that voice never shut up, it also struggles to keep a consistent message. It changes its mind on a whim, frequently contradicts itself and for the most part, is completely unreliable. When that voice decides to put on it’s judging cap, which is often, I like to give it a name…
The Inner Critic.
The inner critic is always judging, and the subject of it’s judgements is most often YOU. If you’re not careful that voice may berate, belittle, and shame you into a corner. It might disable your ability to live a full and meaningful life. It may tell you that you can’t have your dreams, go for what you want, or try something new. It will probably tell you that you aren’t really good enough, that you’re a fraud, or that no one likes you. Even a nice-ish inner critic can cause low-level unhappiness, doubt and discontent in its wake.
I mean, just imagine, for a moment, that you meet the voice in your head. You court, fall in love, and get married. And then every single moment of every single day, you had to live beside that voice in your head. How long would you tolerate the things she or he had to say? How long would it be before you got fed up and had enough? I guess I’m asking: would you tolerate, from anyone one else, the kinds of things you say to yourself?
Probably not, right? Yet there you are, living every moment of your life with that voice in your head, and then wondering why you’re not happy.
That Voice Isn’t You
Over the years I have discovered three powerful questions that bring my clients to an immediate and life changing awakening of their inner critic. These three questions are so valuable that I call them, “the three questions to being your own coach”. When my clients do this exercise I watch them become aware of how ridiculous their inner critic is. I watch them get some space from that incessant voice in their head.
I watch them understand that that voice isn’t THEM. That it doesn’t need to be listened to. That it can be changed.
I watch them not need me so much anymore, and not needing me means that I have achieved my goal. I want my clients to be their own coach, I want that more than anything, And I want you, dear reader, to be your own coach too.
So, get yourself into a quiet space, maybe even grab out a journal if writing is your thing. Take a few breaths and ask yourself this set of three questions:
Being your own coach: The three questions
1) Would you speak to anyone else like your voice speaks to you?
Take a moment to consider this, or write it down. Then, ask yourself why not? Why wouldn’t you speak to someone that way?
2) If someone stood next to you and spoke that way to you all day, what would you do with that person?
Take moment to write down, or just consider what you might do. Really get into it. You can even swear if you want to….
Or get rid of them (you want to, don’t you?)
If you felt the desire to get rid of your inner critic, then guess what, you’re normal, and you’re on the right track. Can you feel a sense of spaciousness from that pesky voice in your head?
3) Imagine you could be a coach, and you got to coach someone (like you). In order to get the very best from that person, to raise them to two or three levels above where they think they can be, how would you speak to that person?
Take a moment to consider or write it down: how you would speak to someone like you? Why would you speak that way?
You can consider these subquestions too, which may help you to identify other areas:
+How would you deal with this person if they made a mistake?
+How would you deal with this person if they’d been hurt or hadn’t measured up?
Are you worth this too? Take a moment to really consider this, or write it down.
Making a commitment
Many of my clients feel intense emotion after realising that they’ve been their own worst critic, so if this is happening to you, allow whatever arises to be. Maybe you’re feeling sadness, or love, or compassion for the hard time you’ve given yourself over the years. Maybe you’re still giving yourself a hard time.
Sometimes, there is apprehension or doubt that there can be another way to relate to yourself, but I promise you there can. Changing your relationship to the inner critic is one of the best things you can do with your life. So, can we make a commitment, you and me?
Can we make an agreement that you will aim to be your own coach from now on? It makes sense, right? A coach could only ever be with you one hour a week. But you, you’re with you all the time. Wherever you go, there you are.
Did you want to write this commitment down? Say it out loud? Find a friend and tell each other what you’re going o do? You can send me a message if you like, and let me know you’re going to keep asking yourself these questions, and keep being your own coach.
It’s likely that you’ll make mistakes, so don’t worry too much about that. It is counter productive to beat yourself up about slip ups (that’s really just your inner critic at work again). How would you speak to a toddler learning to walk? In that way, simply keep picking yourself up with kind words of encouragement.
Be efficient in your capacity to forgive yourself. And relentless in your ability re-commit, over and over, to being your own coach.