THE BLOG

Silencing the Inner Critic

05/11/2015 10:55 GMT | Updated 04/11/2016 09:12 GMT

I'm sure you can relate to a time when you simply couldn't motivated, despite having a big to do list. This was me a few years ago when my hypnotherapy clinic was quiet.

There are a lot of parts to my business, but seeing clients is most enjoyable. So, while I had a ton of other jobs to do which were very important, I found myself missing the joy of being able to help people with their anxiety.

Looking back, what I realised I started to do was blame myself for not taking advantage of this great opportunity. My inner critic was in full flow, arms waving, sitting by my side, and speaking loudly. What's more, I was paying lots of attention to it.

I kept agreeing with the voice - saying to myself 'why am I so uninterested?', 'why can't I just can't get on with it - what's wrong with me? And asking those kinds of questions, it wasn't any surprise that my mood didn't improve and the work didn't get done.

You might think that being harsh on yourself will give you a nudge in the right direction, but this really isn't true. You wouldn't ask your best friend why she was so dreadful at something, it wouldn't help her. And it doesn't help you either.

But what starts this negative speak in the first place? Research has indicated that we adopt this voice as a way of coping with criticism when we're younger. You'd get told off - and you might think that's unfair, and feel hurt. So to stop being hurt in future, the inner critic gets there first in an attempt to protect you.

What actually happens is that your inner voice turns into self criticism, putting you down (before someone else has a chance to). This negativity is destructive as it makes you more sensitive to any feedback that happens in the future.

Your inner voice might say something like 'I'm no good at this, people have told me before, so I won't bother trying, it'll save me from being hurt.'

So please take on board that talking back to your inner critic negatively and trying to force yourself to do things will not be the kindest and most effective way to get yourself motivated.

I remembered that showing myself compassion would help me, after all I'm only human! We all make mistakes at times, we all do things we might regret later. So I was said to myself 'OK, Chloe, you know you have tools in the tool box that help you through this. Go and pick one, and give it a try.'

I wanted to do something that lightened my mood and was fun. I wanted to raise my energy. Here's what I picked from the tool box. It's a great technique from a reprogramming approach called NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). I used it to disarm my inner critic by making it ridiculous - and therefore have no power.

Here's how it works: When your inner voice starts to talk to you - imagine it as a really silly cartoon character - you can pick one you know, or make something up. Then change its voice into a silly high pitched tone, and imagine the crazy character waving its arms and being ridiculous.

The image that came to mind for me was of a pluto type dog, with a huge nose, and long arms and legs, wobbling around. When it spoke to me it was like a Mickey Mouse squeaky voice. When it said 'oh Chloe you are rubbish' in the voice, I just laughed out loud and told it to susssht! It worked for me. I couldn't take it seriously.

You take the sting out of the negative comments by changing the gravity of the voice, making it silly, and therefore easier to shake off. It's straightforward to do, doesn't take any time to learn, and can have an immediate effect on turning the volume down on your inner critic.

I'd love to know what you come up with, so please let me know in the comments.