By Connie Chapman at a life of perfect days
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Lately, I have started to become extremely curious about self-talk. You know, that little voice that chatters on and on in our heads all day.
Since beginning my training to become a Life Coach, I have already coached with a few clients, assisting them to move from where they are, to where they want to be. And what I have discovered is that the key factor which seem stops people from achieving what they want, is unsupportive self talk.
It is very easy to hear when this little negative voice creeps in to our coaching sessions. All I have to do is listen to the language that the client is using. As they talk to me, I can begin to gain insight about how they talk to themselves too.
Unsupportive self talk is when the things we tell ourselves completely sabotage or block us from achieving what we want. It is all those limiting, critical, dis-empoweing and just plain negative thoughts that make us feel as though we cannot do what we want.
What I have fast been discovering is that it is all about the way we talk to ourselves which determines whether we are successful/happy/living the life of our dreams or not. This means that the focus of our coaching sessions are far less about what the person needs to do to get what they want, but rather how they need to think, what they need to beleive and how they need to talk to themselves.
So, since I have been pondering this topic a lot lately, I thought I would share it with you all here on the blog! And while I am at it, I also thought I would share 5 easy steps that you can follow to begin to tame your inner critic and transform your self-talk in to a tool that supports and empowers you.
5 STEPS TO TAME YOUR INNER CRITIC
STEP 1: ACKNOWLEDGE IT
What do you do when your inner critic starts to beat up on you? How do you handle that negative or dis-empowering voice? The two main strategies that people often use are;
1. Ignore it in the hope that it will eventually shut up
2. Think positive thoughts over it in the hope you will drown it out
While both of these strategies may work to some degree, what you will find is that both tactics will simply cause your inner critic to get even louder. It will try even harder to get it's point across. So, what do you do? You listen to it. Listen to what that inner critic has to say. Then, acknowledge the thoughts by saying 'thank you'. Simply thank your inner critic for it's contribution and then let it go. Every time it yells another limiting belief at you, say 'thank you'. Continue to do this every time these thoughts arise. Say 'thank you' and then let them go.
The reason this works is two fold. Firstly, your inner critic simply wants to be heard, so by acknowledging it, you have given it permission to express what it wanted to say. The second reason is that by looking that negative thought square in the face, you actually take away a lot of it's power. It becomes much easier to let a negative thought go, once you can appreciate that it exists without allowing it to have any emotional control over you.
STEP 2. DETERMINE IT'S PURPOSE
When your inner voice is talking to you, ask yourself - Is this voice coming from a place of fear or a place of love? If it is coming from fear it's aim will be to protect you, keep you safe and stop you from stepping outside your comfort zone. If the voice is coming from love, it's purpose will be to support you, empower you and encourage you to be the very best you can be.
Deep down, your inner voice always has your best interests at heart. Really it does. Even when it is barking unsupportive, critical or fearful thoughts at you. When your inner voice is negative and is telling you that you cannot do something, it is because it is trying to keep you safe. Its main aim is survival. It does not want to risk putting you in a situation that is deems as 'dangerous'. It does not want to see you fail, it does not want to see you lose anything, and it definitely does not want to feel unloved. So, it will tell you whatever it needs to to keep in the same and familiar bounds of your comfort zone.
Taking this view point helps you feel some level of understanding and compassion for this inner voice. When this voice is trying to keep you safe, it is often coming from a place of fear. Fear of not being loved, fear of not belonging or fear of not being good enough. When you can begin to see it this way, the fearful inner heckles start to lose their power.
The trick with this, is to decide that rather than spending your whole life being driven by fear, you instead want to be driven by love. You want to be driven by self-belief, by empowerment, by passion, by a love and respect for your self, and by the desire to become your best you. It is up to you to develop the ability to decipher the difference between your inner critic and your inner cheerleader, and then choose which one you will listen to.
STEP 3. DETACH FROM IT
The reason that it often feels like your inner critic has a lot of power of you, is because you are so emotionally attached to it. You cling to every word it says and hold it as the truth. Do you know that you do not have to believe everything you think? Just because there is a voice in your head, telling you that you cannot do something, does not mean it is the truth. You can choose which thoughts you believe and which ones you let go.
Many of us are very attached to our thoughts. We believe our thoughts are who we are. When we feel something, we identify with that feeling eg: I AM scared, or I AM an un-confident person, I AM unsuccessful. Rather than instantly identifying with all the thoughts that pop in to our head, we need to start looking at them differently. We need to see them as what they are - thoughts. They are random ideas popping in to our head, and just because we think them, does not mean they are real.
So start to look at your thoughts from an objective viewpoint. Start to evaluate your thoughts. Look at them as ask, is this a thought that is going to take me where I want to go, or is this a thought that is going to stop me? If it is a thought that is going to stop you, then challenge it. Ask yourself 'is this true?' and 'how do I know it is true'. Then, let go of the thoughts that are not supporting you, and begin to consciously choose new and more empowering ways of thinking.
STEP 4. CHOOSE A NEW THOUGHT
You have a choice what you think. Yes you do. It may feel sometimes that our thoughts just happen. That they just plop in to our head. But we actually choose our thoughts, and we choose to sustain them by continuing to think them.
If you stop thinking a thought, it will eventually disappear. Your thoughts only continue to replay in your mind because you continue to support their existence by thinking them.
So, why not choose your thoughts deliberately? Choose to only think thoughts that will take you where you want to go. Choose the thoughts that make you feel good. Choose the thoughts that support you, that support your goals, and support you in becoming the person you want to be. Choose a thought that is driven by love, rather than fear.
It is extremely difficult to make progress towards a goal if the whole way you have a voice in your head telling you that you cannot do it. To achieve any big goal, you need your mind on your side. It has to be your allay. It needs to be your cheerleader. So, decide today to start thinking differently. Decide to only believe thoughts that take you where you want to go and support you to become the person you want to be.
5. SLOW DOWN
In the past, I had a complete and utter monkey mind. My thoughts were erratic and over reactive. I was often stuck in my head as an obsessive over thinker who would frequently wind myself up in to fits of anxiety. These days, I am constantly surprised by the number of people who tell me how calm I am. I am often told what a wonderful 'energy' I have. And my boyfriend says that I have what he calls ' the Connie zen'. While I still have moments where my thoughts go to crazy-town, I have progressed in leaps and bounds in the ability I have to manage my thoughts and my emotional state.
Do you know what the number one thing is that has helped me transform that crazy thinking in to calmness, peace and flow? Meditation. Now, I now you hear me bang on about meditation all the time, but really, you cannot underestimate the amazing power this practice can have on your life.
The reason meditation helps your master your inner voice, is because it slows down your thoughts. Sometimes our minds are going so freaking fast, that we honestly have zero conscious awareness of what we are even thinking about. The only way to begin to pull back the reigns on your negative thinking, and begin to plant the seeds of positive thinking, is to slow down the rate at which you think.
Meditation creates distance between you and your thoughts. You are able to observe them like clouds drifting across the screen of your mind. Your emotional attachment to these thoughts reduces also, and it allows you to objectively determine whether the thoughts you are thinking are serving you or destroying you.
Meditation can take form of sitting and focusing on your breathing, walking in nature, becoming immersed in a creative project and feeling a sense of flow, or listening to guided meditations and audio's. Whatever slows your mind, serves as a form of meditation. So, I encourage you to find your version of it, so that you can begin to harness the magic of this amazing practice.