If you say you hear voices in your head the general population think you are going mad. But hey - that just is not the case. I think we all have different thoughts and voices swirling around in our heads at different times or what you might call "the committee”. I know I certainly do. And just like any committee or board of directors they occasionally call a meeting. All with different roles and profiles. My board's regular members include - the critic, the coach, the child, the mother and the teacher. there are also the fly in like adventurer, know- it -all and whiner. The voice that speaks the loudest and clearest is the chairperson of the board. Do you have a committee in your head and who are it's members? Who are you allowing to be the Chairperson?
Another way to look at though is to recognise that the inner voices arose as a protective mechanism to help us feel safe and happy. tThe voices are usually operating under the premise that they are trying to protect you. One of the first steps to eliminating self-judgments and chatter is recognize you have the power, as Chairperson, to take charge of the committee and allow the voices of reason to put forward their point of view. Heres how...
Coaching the Inner Critic
It is time to turn the tables and encourage the Inner Coach" to challenge the 'Wee voice's" perception - it is by the way just a 'WEE voice" - and generate a new perspective on an old issue.
A. Challenge Your Thoughts - Think about the times you have felt down about yourself - write these thoughts down. What have you been thinking? What were you doing at the time? What happened as a result?
Example: I was meant to go out to the social club. I started thinking about it and theses thoughts kept circling around in my head - "I've got nothing to wear that I look good in. I'm not good at socialising. I can't make small talk with random people who are not really interested in me anyway". So I decided not to go out in the end. I stayed home and spent the evening alone in front of the tele feeling miserable.
B Now Ask Yourself - Let the Inner Coach have a chat with the Inner Critic.
- What evidence do I have to support or refute what I am thinking?What would my closest friend say to me now? What would I say if my closest friend was thinking this?What is the worst thing that could happen? What point of view seems more reasonable?
Inner Critic: "I can't make small talk"
Coach: "What constitutes small talk?"
Inner Critic: "Polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters"
Coach: "For example!"
Inner Critic: "Latest fashion, celebrity news, current TV shows or movies. That sort of stuff"
Coach: What knowledge do you have of this stuff?
Inner Critic: I like watching new movie releases, watch a lot of TV and read widely. So I guess I could carry a conversation about some of those topics if I had too.
C. Positive Self - Talk
Create a list of positive phrases that you can quickly refer to to ease the doubts in our head. Examples include : "Give it a go". "I can do this". Keep referring back to your positive qualities list for motivation.
After using the phrases record in your Journal what happened.
D: Seek the support of professionals: If you feel that your current level of self esteem is impacting on your metal health.
Note: If the Inner Critic is putting on a tantrum about being challenged, and by that I mean getting even nastier and more persistent then perhaps you can put him/her in "time out" for awhile. Write out everything the Inner Critic is saying on a blank piece of paper. Then on the bottom write I'll get back to you on that and put it in an envelope in the back of your Journal. Later when you feel less agitated/stressed, take out the paper and respond to the comments.
I love being crafty in my creative Journal so I added a old dungeon and a knight in shinning Armour to keep guard over my "Inner Critic" to keep him in check while I got on with a few of the more important things in my day. When I get the time and feel strong enough I will confront him with my Inner coach.
Another strategy is to draw your inner critic - as a little monster - it takes the sting out of the negativity. It's a bit like imagining your audience naked when you have to give a speech so it's not so intimidating. I'd love to see how you depict your inner critic.
Part 1- Where to Begin
Part 2 - Embrace Yourself