Have you noticed how common is the inner mean dialogue in your daily life? Are you aware of the voice in your head offering unsolicited advice and, at times, downright mean comments? It’s not the beginning of a sci-fi movie and you’re not immersed in a virtual reality experience, the voice is really in your head and it’s our inner monologue often trying to help us and protect us from disappointment and mistakes. Our brain is wired to look for solutions to problems, even if the problems are just fleeting thoughts about a future interview or lack of sleep.
Our inner thoughts have the power to affect our mood and change the way we view ourselves and our reality.
For instance, your inner voice is hard at work from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep. What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror in the morning? If you’re complementing your smile, your skin or even saying “you’re going to be fine today”, you’re part of a minority who instinctively talks to his/her inner self with kindness and optimism. The majority of us, unfortunately, lets our inner monologue verge on a more negative trend, offering unhelpful criticism and judgment over our look, choices, dreams and bringing up over and over again all our mistakes. Examples of that negative self-talk are sentences as “You’ll never be able to do it” or “You’re stupid”, these sentences deal in absolutes, there are no facts accompanying them to support their validity.
What’s the goal of our inner mean dialogue?
Are we our best friend or our worst enemy? We can be both and it’s confusing to understand when our inner voice is acting as critic or mentor. It took me years to realise that the mean voice inside my head wasn’t “me” really but the frightened part of my brain trying to protect me in the best way it could. There are different degrees of mean inner dialogue but there are common points to understand, process and hopefully, change the way we talk to ourselves, learning to use a kinder tone and stop taking ourselves down while we could lift ourselves up.
One of the best advice from Tara Mohr’s Playing Big book is to create a persona, a caricature of this voice with proper attributes so you can identify it easily in the midst of all your thoughts and inner dialogues. Tara’s exercises and visualisations on this matter are fantastic so you’ll not regret checking them out!
What can we do to stop our inner mean dialogue? The steps I’m proposing here might seem ordinary however the trick will be applying them often and becoming aware of the party happening inside our head. It’s within your power to control and use your thoughts to support you instead of holding you back.
You need to acknowledge that this voice exists and it had free reins in your head for quite a while. Create space to tune on it, meditation is my recommended option here but you can also find a quiet spot to just sit and “be”, breathing slowly and tuning into your thoughts. If you can’t connect to the negative thoughts, that’s normal as, at this point, your brain is aware you’re onto something big. Park this exercise until the next time your inner critic will roar its ugly head again and be ready to go ahead.
If your best friend would share with you a similar problem or worry, would you answer in the same way you’re talking to yourself? Would you say aloud to someone else the words that you say to yourself in your mind? That’s really a basic check to understand if you’re listening to your mean critic or if there is some truth in what you’re thinking.
Reassure your inner critic
Now you need to answer to that mean comment because ignoring it would only make things worse and allow it to reappear again when you least expect it. If you have created a caricature for this mean voice, this part might be easier but even if you haven’t done that yet, it’s time to act. Getting angry or upset with yourself because of this will not pay off, the best way to answer is with kindness and reassurance because you’re showing to your inner self that you got this, whatever is scaring him/her can be put to rest. Answer with “Don’t worry, I got this” or “I can do this” and “It’s going to be ok”.
Old habits are not easy to change but it’s possible to do it, day by day you can establish a better relationship with your subconscious and with yourself. Set yourself up and become your stronger supporter. Some days you’ll succeed and others will feel like a setback but as long as you keep recognising the negative talk and respond with kindness, you will become stronger and more confident.
Let me know how things will go with these steps and if there is something specific you’re struggling with. You can do it and you need to keep telling yourself that you got this! Dream big and learn to become your best supporter.