We have all experienced the inner critic. Negative self-talk which is so powerful that it can create a whole range of unhelpful feelings and induce stress, low mood and complete inaction.
I recommend that coaches work to disempower their own inner critic before considering how they can support their coachees to do the same. My inner saboteur is represented by the lightening struck tree in the image at the top of this post. Treating my inner critic as separate to me, means I can dismiss it very quickly. Just looking at the image reduces my saboteur to a load of dead wood! You might find it helpful to find an image to represent your inner critic too, that way you can put a metaphorical fence around it or wrap it up and put it out of your way.
Here are some more simple exercises you can do:
Turn it into a silly voice
- Notice how you talk to yourself. What voice does your inner critic use? Is it anxious, angry, tired?
- Repeat the same words as your inner critic, but use a very silly voice to say the words out loud. Experiment with different silly voices until the inner critic is disempowered and …well quite frankly…just silly.
Give the inner critic a colour and shape
- Give this saboteur a colour and shape. What have you chosen? A slimy yellow blob? A murky grey pool?
- Imagine you have the power to make the shape get smaller and smaller until it disappears from sight.
- Repeat step 2 until the inner critic has disappeared or dissolved completely.
Teach yourself how to talk to yourself
This is a powerful exericise which I first met many years ago at drama school.
- Think of an imaginery person who is just like you.
- Explain to your imaginery person how to talk to themselves in a way that will build their confidence and encourage them to take positive action.
- Choose 3 positive statements to use in your self-talk.
- Make a commitment to using positive self-talk every day and replace the inner critic with an inner friend.