By popular request for help on self-talk, here are some strategies.
We all know the critical inner voice inside our head. It’s the one who can pick every nitty gritty fault out, even the ones that others don’t see. It will focus on the one thing you could have done better rather than the bucket load of things that you’re doing well in any day. When things get really bad and this voice takes over your thinking it can have you feeling worthless, diminished and defeated. It’s time to contain this part to keep you out of harms way. Here’s an exercise you play with and see if it helps over the coming weeks.
First of all, it’s important to know how to recognise the inner critic when it comes chatting. The easiest way is by these key words, which it always likes to use:
You…, (It won’t say “I”), then comes the blaming and shaming with: should/shouldn’t, why, ought, have to, must, can’t, etc. The tone will be mean, chastising and authoritarian. Once you catch it, take a breath and then have a go at this…
- Give your inner critic a name (Gertrude).
- When you find that part taking over your mental dialogue, you can…
- thank it for sharing (“Gee Gertrude, you’re back. Thanks for sharing.”) and
- then imagine it shrinking to an inch high. Visualise it as a person standing in the palm of your hand while it’s talking at you.
- You are not obliged to listen to this part or take it seriously. No matter how hard you try to please it, I can guarantee it will never be enough, so there’s no point trying.
- You can comment back to that part that you’re doing nothing wrong by attending to your own needs. (“Thanks for the guilt trip Gertrude, but I’m doing nothing wrong and I’m going to attend to my own needs.”) Feel free to flatten your palms together or throw the inner critic over your shoulder when you’re done with it.
Breaking our inner voices into various parts and then compartmentalising can be very liberating.
Enjoy your week.