Transform Your Inner Critic Into An Inner Coach
Homer needed to pass the Security+ exam to keep his job. He had been studying for it for over a month. He wasn’t sure if was ready, but pressured by his boss he took it.
Homer was devastated, wondering if he’d lose his job. He called his friend, Moe, telling him what happened hoping for some consoling.
Moe, in his typical despondent tone, replied with “What did you expect? You don’t know anything about security. You’re overweight, incompetent, bumbling, lazy, ignorant, and clumsy. You probably can’t even spell IT, much less know about IT security. You’ll never pass that test. You should just give up. Here, have a beer.”
Do you have a friend like that?
I hope not.
However, all of us have an inner voice, and that inner voice can be an extremely harsh critic. If you let it be.
You can also transform that inner voice into an inner coach.
Recognizing the Inner Critic
Principle #32 in Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” is Transform Your Inner Critic Into An Inner Coach. One of the first steps in transforming it, is to recognize it.
Jack mentions how the inner critic attempts to flood your mind with negative thoughts and often talks in absolutes such as always and never. Here are a few examples.
- I’ll always be poor.
- I’ll never get a raise.
- I’ll never get a better job.
Sometimes we talk ourselves out of what we can do, by repeating “I can’t” and then flooding our mind with all the reasons why that’s true. Other times these thoughts are just critical about what we did or said berating us with I “should have” done this or I “should have” done that.
“I will not should on myself today“
Anyone that allows these thoughts to consume their mind, will begin to believe them at some point. It’s like a form of self-brain-washing.
What Does This Inner Voice Want?
Imagine for a moment that this inner voice is actually your inner teacher or higher self trying to get your attention. I wrote about this a little in the Believe In Yourself post from Principle #5.
In essence, this inner voice is trying to give you useful and helpful information. However, if you don’t listen to the inner teacher, it gets louder and louder, and often harsher and harsher, ultimately turning into an inner critic.
Jack compares the voice to a loving mother that yells at her son after he ran in front of a car and barely avoided a catastrophe. “Go to your room and think about what you did” she says. The child only hears anger, but the mother is actually feeling anger, fear, and love.
- Anger. The anger is because the boy ran into the street without looking.
- Fear. The fear is that the boy will get hurt or even killed.
- Love. The mother has unconditional love for her son and wants to help him be safe, happy, and healthy. She wants him to grow up and enjoy all that life has to offer.
His mother is also giving her child an implied request. She wants her child to pay more attention while playing near the street, and be especially cautions when traffic is near.
Of course, the child doesn’t hear all this, but instead only hears anger.
Similarly, without training your inner voice, you might only hear the anger and it can stay completely negative.
Transforming the Inner Critic to an Inner Coach
Think of this inner voice as your best ally and a true friend that wants nothing but the best for you. When it starts talking to you negatively, simply say “Stop!” (though silently if you’re in a public place).
You can follow it with statements such as these.
- Tell me what I did effectively.
- Show me how I can achieve my dreams.
- Tell me how I can instead of saying I can’t.
- Show me how I could have done better in that situation.
And then listen to how the inner voice responds. It’s very likely to provide you with valuable feedback, but you really need to listen to it.
If your inner voice is constantly filling your mind with negative thoughts today, the transformation won’t be immediate. However, each time you notice it start to turn negative, tell it to stop and give you more useful information. You can train this inner voice to fill your mind with positive thoughts.
“Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.”
– Mike Dooley
About This Post
I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. I credit much of my success (including authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books) to applying principles in my life that he teaches. I’m currently going through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” covering one principle a week.