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Thursday, June 4, 2015

6 Tips for Quieting Your Inner Voice

Living through and surviving an abusive, catastrophic, or traumatic situation is bad enough but the aftereffects can be even more trying. Days, months or even years after a survivor’s inner voice seems to magnify and attains a greater degree of influence over thoughts and reactions in the survivor's mind. I always thought it was normal for people to put themselves down if something wasn’t going right. Maybe I was wrong. After childhood abuse and growing up as a survivor, I would mentally and emotionally beat myself up. I would slash myself into little pieces with my own words … even when things were going right or good things were coming my way.  I became extremely compliant and loyal to what my self-critical voice told me about me. I let it dictate what to do and how to react. Over time, I learned that this self-flagellation never did anything good for me, except to spiral me down into a very dark place. It caused me to loathe myself even more, and the frequency of dissociative episodes I experienced increased. Each time, it became harder and harder to crawl out of my self-imposed emotional hole.

A side effect of listening to the self-critical voice in my head was that my self-confidence, self-loyalty, and self-love eroded away. I blamed myself more. I felt disconnected from my core self, and I constantly shamed myself.  The more I listened, the more I hated me. My emotional suffering increased as this critical inner voice gained more power. It not only gained power over how I reacted toward myself by influencing my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, but it also had an enormous amount of influence over how I reacted toward others.

As I grew older, I learned that this critical inner voice had resulted from statements made to me by my abusers and my emotional involvement with them. What I didn't understand was that emotional involvement with my perpetrators was not the same thing as love. What emotionally bonded me to them was the heightened emotions of fear, terror and hurt which they created during the abuse. It was these sharp intense negative emotions that allowed those criticisms, judgments, and blame to bypass my perceptual filters (my defenses) and embed straight into my subconscious as mind code. See … it is the power of the emotion (whether negative or positive) that allows critical messages to enter one’s head unchanged and unchallenged. More importantly, these accepted criticisms became the content that formed my core beliefs about myself. These core beliefs then became the messages of my critical voice that filled my mind and tortured me daily. Statements like “you're nothing,” “you caused that to happen,” “you have no value,” and “you're damaged.”

As I grew up, I heaped on myself tons of self-doubts, blame, shame, judgment and negative beliefs about me. The critical messages became more and more front and center in all my thoughts. They affected my relationships not only with myself but also with others in my life.

When I felt strong and my PTSD symptoms were not active, I was able to ignore my self-critical messages and was able to accomplish things in my life. At other times, I couldn't ignore those messages, and I had no power to stop them. These self-critical messages, besides being verbally damaging, came with very strong emotions. They governed all my responses … or lack of response. Now that I am older, I have learned this critical self-talk in my head is the result of having experienced abuse and trauma. It is normal to all survivors. Actually, it is normal to everyone, just not as intense. I finally found a name for this self-critical voice - inner critic.

Now, after years of attempting to heal, as well as helping others as a therapist and coach, I have gained respect for my inner critic, but that does not mean I like it. I have grown to understand every survivor has a very harsh and cruel inner critic. Whew!! I am not alone, not damaged, insane, nor defective, and most importantly, it wasn’t my fault. My inner critic is that inner judgmental part that carries the damaging statements from my perpetrators. The perpetrator’s statements caused my mind to form negative beliefs about me which directly influenced and distorted my view of my character and performance. The negative “you” statements which my perpetrators said to me, in time, became “I” beliefs in my head. For example, “you're nothing,” over time became “I am nothing.”

Through my years of coaching others, I found that my clients really identified with the term “inner critic.” I gave each client the assignment to write down all their inner critic statements. They submitted page after page of nasty comments which they heard in their heads. Survivors always had harsher and crueler lists, and their lists were much longer.

Here are a few more inner critical statements you might identify with: 

You caused it.

You're undeserving of anything.

You will fail at anything you do.

You're a loser.

You’re defective.

You are undeserving of love.

There is something wrong with you and no one will accept you.

You're ugly.

You don't deserve to live.

You never do good enough, or well enough.

You are different than others.

You will never have happiness or success.

You are not allowed to feel good about anything.

Bad things are always going to happen to you.

True Story

I recently watched a story on Joe Torre. He grew up in an abusive home with an abusive father who harshly criticized him all the time. Even with that dark past, he worked hard in sports and achieved many awards. He attained MVP as a player 8 times, 9 times all-star player and one MVP batting title. Joe went on to become one of the most winning baseball coaches in the history of baseball winning 2,326 games, and he won 4 World Series. He stated that the most important aspect of coaching was to make sure his players respected him. What I learned from this story is if you challenge your inner voice, you can beat it, nullify its negative content, and turn the negative self-talk into positive and productive self-talk.

Inner Critic Forms at Childhood

So, even with embedded criticism directed toward you from childhood, there is a part of yourself that retains your power, and you can triumph over those criticisms. You do not have to live with the negative content of your inner critic as your truth. Change can be had. You have the power to construct new content, practice it, and most of all, and connect a positive emotion to each new self-talk. If you acquire the right tools or learning, you can accomplish your objective of altering your self-talk. You can take back your power. In order to do so, you have to make your new inner messages your own, feel them, believe them, and then live them as your truth.

In other words, you can make a positive change to your inner critic content. You change it first by recognizing the old self-talk, denying those ideas as your truths and beliefs, and author new self-talk content. This will change the tone of the content and your mind code. Once you shift your inner talk, it should be more lighthearted, positive and supportive which will create a positive mental environment. This environment should allow you have some breathing room and be more flexible, grow, expand, risk and explore life’s possibilities. Through this method, I was able to create new self-talk content to replace the old inner critic so I could love, motivate and support myself with my own words. You can do it, too.

6 Tips How to Subdue Your Inner Critic

I want to share with you a few specific suggestions on how you can quiet your inner critic. If you are diligent with these suggestions, you can replace your inner critic’s content, which will result in changing your inner thoughts to be positive and supportive.

1. Get to know your inner critic, it's tone of voice, and its intentions.

Activate your observer self and listen to what is being said in your head. Listen from a third party perspective as if you are hearing it on the radio. Write each statement down. Recognize that each statement is an old criticism and an outright lie which was said to you at some point in your life by people close to you and society.

The most impactful criticisms came from your closest family to whom you were emotionally attached. Understand some of the criticisms were meant to ensure your emotional and physical safety or make you a “stronger person.” Know that your mind does not have or express feelings, it just records the words and repeats them back through your inner critic. The replay is always automatic.

2. Take some time to evaluate each inner critic statement; 
    go deep inside

Explore each critical statement and determine if you truly deserve the negativity, doubt, self-limiting thoughts self-defeating or criticism. Let your mind help you validate whether the content of your self-critical voice is true or false. Then note next to each critical statement who in your life said it and the situation or event where it occurred. The more you know the less power the critical content has. Find proof of why the criticism is wrong and unfounded. When you find the real truth, you will create a crack in that thought pattern and dissipate its power and influence, but that alone is not enough to achieve mental freedom.

3. Make a realistic plan to correct your inner critic

List one new positive statement to counteract each bit of critical content that would increase your self-worth and value.

It can be as simple as creating new content statements…“I deserve to be something” or “I deserve to look at myself in the mirror and love myself.” Once you have created these new statements, repeat them to yourself ten times a day for 90 days.

The trick to success in your plan is that these new content statements need to be specific, measurable, timelined and feel doable to you. Once you develop your new content, it becomes your action plan, and you need to give it life.

4. Stick with the program

Accept and feel a deep obligation to your action plan. Follow through daily for 90 days. You need to now accept that you are in charge of how you think about yourself, what you believe about yourself, what you are capable of, and how you will perform successfully.

I find that I get the best results and most successful when I keep track of these activities. Track yourself by keeping a journal of your progress. That way you will be able to see your commitment, day by day for those 90 days. Keeping track of what I do daily helps me to recognize when I fall off my action plan and motivates me to get back on track.

5. Hang out with people who think positive and are supportive of you and make you feel comfortable.

Be around people who see and experience you in a positive light, support you and know you as you really are. Let people who love you reflect the real you back to you. Start hanging out with people who could use support and reflect back to them how you see them in a positive light. Practice the balance of receiving and giving positive content rather than feeding negative self-talk.

6. Realize that you have the power to earn respect from your inner critic.

Understand that your inner critic has been attempting to protect you, be it through doubt, negative or critical statements. But don't let your inner critic influence your life or direct your thoughts. Earn respect from your mind by forming your own thoughts. You have that power. Once you decide this, the rest is pretty much practice and patience.

If you follow these suggestions, you can alter the content of your inner critic and, therefore, be more positive and successful in your thoughts … and that will manifest in your life.

After Thoughts

Your inner critic can be very troublesome due to past traumatic experiences. If you follow the 6 tips mentioned you can make a positive change in your life then you will notice calming of your negative chatter of your inner critic and attain some peace of mind.

How to change your Inner Critic content in one month at home:  

Want to change and stop your self-limiting, self-sabotaging and self-defeating inner critic fast at home?

You, too, can change your mind code that feeds your inner critic and stops your self-limiting, self-sabotaging and self-defeating 
self-talk with the 30 Day Challenge in just one month. Start today!

Please visit my website and here is a gift from me of my eBook  

         Coach Bill

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