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I'm an emotional health mentor, edu-preneur and coach who loves teaching you how to understand, manage and embrace your emotions.
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So, let’s talk about…how we talk about ourselves. For me, improving my inner voice has made a big difference in how I feel about myself. Find out the 5 steps to having a more positive inner voice below.
To start off, I have to say that improving my inner critic is still an ongoing challenge for me. Even though I’ve taken big steps recognizing it and speaking more positively to myself, it’s a long-term process.
BUT ever since I’ve started working on it, my self-esteem has improved a lot! So, it’s important to know that the work you put in will be worth it.
Now, let’s get into it!
The way we speak to ourselves has a huge effect on our self-esteem. If you’re constantly mean to yourself, putting yourself down or being pessimistic, chances are that you probably don’t have the highest self-esteem.
On the other hand, if you have a kind inner voice, you lift yourself up and speak nicely to yourself, you probably feel much better about yourself.
But did you know that the way we talk to ourselves in our head is usually a result of our upbringing? So, if you had a critical parent, you might have a critical inner voice.
Even though changing your inner dialogue is do-able, it can be really challenging. So, where to begin?
The first step is to know when your inner voice is affecting you negatively. So, what are some of the signs that your inner voice is getting in your way?
Personally, I experience a range of all of the above. And frankly it’s hard to pull myself out of it sometimes. But recognizing it is the first step to helping yourself feel better.
Once you’ve started noticing when your inner voice is raining on your parade, the next thing to do is try and catch it in the act.
Thoughts like, why did you do that, or, did I really just say that, or even outright, I’m such an idiot, are your inner critic.
Personally, I was raised with a very critical parent. So, my inner voice can actually reflect his voice sometimes, even now as a 30-year-old. But it was a big break-through for me when I was able to start recognizing that mean, bullying voice.
It was actually my therapist who helped me do that. She asked me to say out loud some of the things I tell myself when I’m at my most critical.
Some of the things I told her included, “You should do what everyone else is doing,” “Why did you think that would work?” “You’re not even close to getting it,” you know, all those gross thoughts? Yep, my inner critic is a huge jerk.
After you start recognizing that voice, the next thing to do is write down what it’s saying to you.
This is what I did with my therapist. She wrote them down then we talked about them together.
And actually, she was the one who pointed out how mean this voice was. It took a weight off my shoulders to hear that from a professional. It was sort of like someone telling the bully to stop haha!
But it was sooo helpful to take that voice out of my head, put it into the world and reduce it to mere ink on paper. That really took the power out of it for me. I would highly recommend this part!
The next step after you’ve gotten to know how your critic talks to you is to actually name it.
I named my inner critic “the Blob,” because it makes me feel really powerless and heavy. Also, it makes it so I recognize that it’s separate from who I am. Because who I am is really kind, happy and shiny! And I know that who I really am isn’t actually mean and critical. And you aren’t either!
So, whenever I have these negative thoughts, I know it’s just the Blob talking and not me.
Go ahead and name your inner critic something that disarms it and makes fun of it. Here are some sophisticated names that you can feel free to use:
So, you’ve gotten to know your critic and you’ve also given it a name. Now it’s time to start confronting it.
For me, I was never allowed to talk back to authority figures. And my inner voice became an authority figure over the years. So, it’s important that I talk back to it so that I start feeling more powerful than its negativity.
For instance, if my inner critic tells me I’m not doing enough work on a project then I could say, “Actually I’ve done so many things already!” Then I could list the things I’ve done and say, “So really I’ve done plenty and you’re not being helpful!” And that’s it.
Another way that I stand up to my inner critic is by making fun of it. This helps disarm it and makes those negative messages less important.
So, if the Blob is saying, “You’re doing a horrible job,” then I can respond with, “Aww you’re so cute. You must be grumpy today!”
Once you start confronting your inner critic, you’re well on your way to improving your inner dialogue and your self-esteem. It’s like a muscle, so you have to keep strengthening this skill. You’ve got this!
Now that we’ve covered the inner critic, something you can do at the same time is start finding your inner positive voice.
While you might think you don’t even have an inner motivator, you actually do! You just have to find it and make it louder.
You know that voice I mentioned above, the one that confronts your inner critic? That’s your inner motivator!
Personally, I like to give myself pep talks in the morning. While I’m walking to the metro or on my way to a meeting, I tell myself nice things. Such as, “You’ve totally got this. You’re doing great. You’re a kind person, you’re working so hard, you can do it!”
But I also like to give myself evidence of why these things are true. For instance, “You did all these things this week,” then I’ll list all the great things I’ve done, even if they’re small.
Or if I’m feeling bad about myself, I’ll list the people who love me in my head and reasons why I KNOW they love me.
If you’re having trouble talking nicely to yourself, try this.
Imagine your four-year-old self is sitting next to you. What would you say to her? You’d probably want to tell her how smart, kind, cute and fun she is! And that you believe in her, that you’re going to protect her, and that you’ll always going to be there for her. You’ll probably have an easier time
However you want to do it, you just need to give your inner cheerleader some pompoms and let her do her thing!
Improving your inner dialogue takes time and dedication. But it’s the best way to improve your self-esteem. What are you going to name your inner critic? Tell me in the comments below!