It speaks without warning. Sometimes during a break, sometimes during a moment of contemplation, sometimes at 2 in the morning!
It never has anything good to say. It seems disorganized, blending random thoughts and past experiences together to create a hodgepodge of unpleasant memories.
What is this voice that attempt to relive unhappy events that only you can hear? It's your subconscious mind and it has this nasty habit of showing up when you least expect it or want it.
Many people suffer from the effects of a negative inner voice that chides them for trying to improve their situations. For some, the voice is a randomly appearance. For others, it can seem like a regular interaction.
Welcome to your 'Inner Critic'
We all have one and it needs no invitation to show up and speak its own mind. In my work as an executive coach, I find a negative inner voice to be one of the greatest barriers to achieving business or personal goals. Regardless of how intelligent or experienced the person is, their inner critic can be their biggest foe in their quest to have the success they want.
What kind of conversations is your inner critic having with you?
The concept of 'self talk' has been studies for many years. According to the National Science Foundation, self talk is 80% negative and 95% of this dialogue repeats itself daily.
Allowing these negative inner thoughts to become a dominant factor in your thoughts of who you are and what potential you can reach can be very destructive to your business or your career advancement.
What to do with an out-of-control inner critic
If you believe your inner critic has gained too much control over your ability to move forward, there are a few simple ways to intercept these unproductive messages and rewire your thinking to turn your mindset from 'inner critic' to 'inner ally'!
First, recognize that these random thoughts are a mixture of old events or interactions that made an emotional impression on your subconscious. They are part of your historical database. They do not have to be part of your future endeavors.
Second, create a list of your strengths. If you need to, invite people who know you to contribute to your list. Keep it short, less than 10 and try to order them if you can. If this exercise becomes difficult, consider using the ‘Strength Finders’ assessment. It will give you a surprising close and accurate list of your strengths.
Next, complete a ‘business and professional accomplishments inventory’. This is a chronological list of all of your significant achievement. These results should be things that had measurable outcomes. Receiving a promotion at work or accepting a new job of greater responsibility are good examples.
Lastly and most importantly, select a unique word that you can remember and can say audibly when needed. I know this sounds odd but say with me a little longer.
Simple to create but challenging to implement
The secret to harnessing your inner critic and converting your thoughts to more positive messages is to identify when that critic shows up and consciously rewriting your subconscious. It’s like formatting your hard drive with new, presumably more valuable information.
Write your strengths and your accomplishments on a card that you can keep with you. I recommend putting them on opposite sides of each other.
This is where it gets hard at first but with practice seems easier and more fluid. When your inner critic shows up and starts babbling away, say your unique word loud enough that you hear it in your ears, not just your thoughts. This is called a ‘pattern interrupt’ and it helps stop the inner dialogue that can seem like a runaway train.
Once you regain control of your thoughts, pull out your card and review the positive attributes you wrote down. Depending on how ingrained your negative inner dialogue is, you may find yourself doing this several times a day.
Don't give up because your inner critic won't either!
This process works because it systematically stops your subconscious from repeating negative thoughts and allows you, over time, to replace your head chatter with more positive messages.
Everyone deals with thoughts that remind us of our failures and shortcomings. The best way to prevent your inner critic from dismantling your efforts to improve and accomplish truly remarkable things is to change the talk to things that remind you of how good you are.
Your inner ally is waiting!
About the Author
Steve Smith is the owner of GrowthSource Coaching, an Orange County, CA based business and executive coaching company that specializes in helping business professionals become extraordinary leaders, savvy busines owners and confident marketing strategists. After a stellar 30 year career in the consumer products manufacturing industry, Steve began coaching as a way to help businesspeople develop the skills and attitudes to perform at a world-class level. Steve co-hosts a business podcast called The Business Wingmen and is the author of, ‘Leadership Axioms’- Timeless Principles for Leading in Business and Life.
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About the Author
Steve provides leadership, management and marketing coaching to business owners, executives and entrepreneurs worldwide. Considered the Catalyst for Change by the California Business Journal, Steve has coached over 400 business professionals to date.