What is the inner critic?
The inner critic represents all of the insecurities and anxieties that a person has. Like the inner coach, it can speak to you directly and affect your thought processes and decisions greatly.
The challenge with the inner critic is that it is often concerned only with the negative aspects of each undertaking. The end-effect is always the same: a person feels that the current undertaking is impossible or extremely difficult, and this can greatly impede the ‘forwards-looking’ attitude that we’d like to foster with everyone.
How can a person foster a good relationship with her inner coach?
Your inner coach is essentially a voice inside your mind that can hold a dialogue with you, any time.
To use your inner coach is to exercise your memory, instinct and good sense in such a way that you are able to approach challenges and obstacles in life creatively. By ‘creative,’ I refer to the active process of solution-seeking that makes use of different kinds of approaches, not just one known or common approach.
While asking other people for advice is a known best practice, one must also learn to seek the counsel of one’s good sense because in the long term, this is what will save you (again and again) because you can’t always ask people for advice as you continue working on your goals.
In order to create the best mental and emotional environment for your inner coach, use this simple exercise:
1. First, find a comfortable and quiet place to perform the mental exercise. It can be in your bedroom, living room or even office. Seat yourself on a chair and relax. Make sure that your cellphone is on silent and no one will disturb you from your mental exercise.
2. Second, think of an endeavor that you are currently working on. Just put the idea of the endeavor at the center of your mind and let it dwell there. When the image in your mind becomes clear, begin to contemplate the endeavor and how you’ve been handling the necessary effort to accomplish your desired results.
3. Third, as you continue focusing on the idea of your endeavor, begin to pay close attention to the different voices that are speaking to you about the endeavor. You will encounter two general types of voices: one positive, the other a polar opposite –negative.
The negative voice is almost always the inner critic while the more constructive voice represents your inner coach, or the positive energy in your mind. Take note of what is being said and try to analyze what the voices in your mind are really trying to say, as opposed to what is simply being ‘said.’
I encourage a bit of analysis here because even in our subconscious minds, we tend to use codes and masks to hide what we really mean. When you exercise your ability to hear and communicate with your inner coach, you’re not just acknowledging the presence of an inner coach. You’re harnessing this voice inside to begin making good decisions.
4. Fourth, after distinguishing the two voices (inner coach and inner critic), I want you to visualize a radio in front of you, with an antenna, a speaker and two knobs. The knob on the left side of the radio is black while the other one, directly beside it, is blue.
The radio is already working. Turn the black knob slightly to the right and you will hear your inner critic speak. Turn the blue knob after and you will also hear your inner coach speak, alongside your inner critic. Obviously in this orientation it is difficult for you to hear your inner coach because your inner critic is spouting away at the same time.
Let’s fix the challenge. First, turn the black knob to the left to turn your inner critic off or to the barest whisper. In real life, it’s not possible to turn off the inner critic completely because humans are instinctively pessimistic (a remnant of our hunter gatherer days many thousand years ago). After drastically reducing the speaking power of your inner critic, turn your attention to the blue knob beside it. Turn the blue knob to the right until you can hear the voice clearly, as if it was speaking directly to you and the source of the sound is but a meter away.
There will be times when the knobs’ settings will change and the inner critic’s voice will overcome the inner coach’s voice. Simply repeat this exercise to see which voice is stronger. When you’re feeling down and depressed about something, it’s highly likely that your inner critic is speaking to you more than your inner coach. If this is the case, visualize the radio once again and adjust the knobs until your inner coach voice is dominant once again.