Awesome You Be


   

Cartoon: Superman battles with his inner voice.

How to Talk Back to Inner Voice

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

If you are like many people, one of the biggest impediments to becoming more awesome is a critical inner voice that seems to take pleasure in making you feel less awesome than you really are.

Everyone has an inner voice and for many people, it is a critical voice that takes perverse pleasure in saying things like:

"You are so stupid"

"What makes you think you can do that?"

"You do not know what you are doing!"

"No one wants to hear your opinion"

"What a ridiculous idea! You do not want to share it with your team, they'll only laugh at you!"

Recognise Your Inner Voice

The first thing you need to do is to recognise your inner voice. If you are not familiar with the concept of an inner voice, it may seem a strange one. But, everyone seems to have an inner voice. We are simply so used to it that we fail to notice it at the conscious level. Sadly, the inner voice is often negative and often holds us back from achieving our full awesomeness potential.

The best way to identify and recognise your inner voice is simply to listen. Listen particularly carefully when you have doubts about your ability. Pay attention to those doubts and the message they are conveying. That is your inner voice. Once you have identified it, it becomes easier and easier to recognise it and, in turn, to talk back to it.

Write Your Inner Voice's Quotes Down

For the next few days, write down the negative things your inner voice tells you. Write everything. Hopefully, you are in the habit of carrying a notebook around with you. If not, this is a good excuse to get into the habit.

Then, go through each of the negative things your inner voice has said to you. Do you recognise where it might be coming from? Perhaps it sounds like your mother or a foreboding teacher you once had. Perhaps you once attempted something similar (for example, a presentation at a conference) and failed. Perhaps it sounds like a critical ex-husband, ex-wife or ex-partner. If you can work out where the negative thoughts come from, they will be easier to manage.

As you go through your inner voice's collection of quotes, pay special attention to things it says over and over. These are the criticisms are really holding you back.

Prepare Valid Arguments

Now, go through the negative thing your inner voice likes to tell you, item by item, and prepare an argument for each. It must be a valid argument and one that will convince you. If you have ended a long term relationship with a partner who made you feel ugly, and you are ready to start dating again, simply telling yourself that you are beautiful is not enough. You need to convince yourself you are beautiful.

There are a number of ways you might do this. Ask friends what they find beautiful about you. Have some professional photos taken of you. Post one or two of those photos on Facebook and ask friends what they think. Spoil yourself and get your hair done or buy an outfit that makes you look good and feel good.

Now, look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself why you are beautiful. You may not be an 18 year old model painstakingly made up. And that's okay. But there are many beautiful aspects of you that when taken together make you far more beautiful than that model. Indeed, I suspect she is jealous of you!

Sometimes it is simpler than that. If you are doing job interviews and your inner voice keeps saying, "Why should this company hire you?" then before you go into your next interview make a list of reasons why they would benefit by having  you on the team. Think about the list whenever your inner voice starts to get critical.

Improve Yourself

If you once botched up a public presentation, don't let your inner voice tell you that you are lousy at public speaking. Instead, identify what went wrong and take action to improve. Consider the bad speech to be a part of your on-going learning. Get coaching. Join Toastmasters (a global club for public speaking). Once you have demonstrably improved your public speaking skills, you will have a valid argument to use with your inner voice.

Argue with Yourself

You've identified your inner voice's favourite criticisms, worked out where these criticisms come from and you've developed arguments as to why those criticisms are wrong. You are ready!

The next time your inner voice goes negative on you, argue with it. Lisa Firestone, a specialist on inner voice issues (see further reading below), suggests using a different grammatical perspective on your inner voice. If it criticises you in the second person (eg: "You are a failure at work"), then argue in the first person (eg: "I am not a failure. In fact, I have been successful in my career. I have been recognised by my superiors for my work and I have even been approached by headhunters.")

It is particularly important that you argue with your inner voice at significant times. For example, if you are going to do a job interview, going out on a date or giving a speech, you should be prepared to argue with  your inner voice beforehand so that you will be confident when you actually do the interview, go on the date or start your speech.

You should also be prepared to argue with your inner voice if you are embarking on something new. If you have started an art class and your inner voice tells you that you cannot draw, then you need to argue with it. Otherwise, your efforts will be sabotaged by none other than you!

And you are too awesome to stand in your own way, aren't you?

Final Note: This Article May Not Be Enough

If your inner voice is particularly cruel or if you suffer from depression or if you feel overwhelmed by negativity, please bear in mind that an article like this one is not enough. You should seek professional psychological help which can do just that: help!

 

Further Reading

  1. Steps to Overcoming Your Critical Inner Voice by Lisa Firestone PhD; 21 May 2010
  2. Silence the Inner Voice That's Stressing You Out by Lisa Firestone PhD; 12 October 2010
  3. Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice: A Revolutionary Program to Counter Negative Thoughts and Live Free from Imagined Limitations by Lisa Firestone.

 

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