I am a co-facilitator of a very powerful new workshop entitled ME2.0 — Transform Your Life in 5 Hours! The purpose of the workshop is to help people make significant progress in raising their sense of self-worth and self-confidence in one afternoon. We use some processes that allow participants to identify and change old ideas, beliefs, messages and habits that have been holding them back. I must say that seeing the transformations folks have gone through in these workshops is really gratifying.
But I don’t want to talk about the workshop (although I heartily recommend them if you’re in the Seattle area). Instead, I want to share with you one of the key learnings from participants about what’s really holding them back and how you too can benefit.
It’s all about what one friend calls the “Itty Bitty Sh*tty Committee.” Another calls it her “evil twin.” My friend, Matthew Ferry calls it the “drunk monkey.” Buddhists know it as the ‘monkey mind.” Whatever the name, what they’re all referring to is the part of our mind that doesn’t want us to move forward, take chances, or even become happy. It’s the voice in our head that’s constantly chattering away — and mostly in a critical manner.
“You’ll never lose that weight.” “You don’t deserve to have that.” “Who died and made you queen?” And on and on goes the incessant jabbering of what I call the Inner Critic.
Psychologists have written reams about this phenomena. But I’m not as concerned about the definition as much as I am the solution. Because if you can’t turn off the Inner Critic you will have a decidedly harder time making wise and effective choices in your life.
Ok, you might ask, so how do I turn off my inner critic?
We go much deeper into this in our ME2.0 workshops, but here are some basic steps to get you on the road to real inner peace…
1. Acknowledge that this voice is present — but it isn’t the essential you. Sure it is in there and it may have had some good purpose or intention in the past, but now its no longer serving you. One way to start when you perceive this nattering voice pop into your consciousness is to simply state to yourself — “I hear you, but no thanks.”
2. Identify the voice. Many of our students and clients have told us that their Inner Critic isn’t just some unknown voice — its the voice of someone they know. One woman told us that the voice was her mother, another that it was her third grade teacher who once told her that she’d never get anywhere in her life. And women’s money expert, Barbara Stanny told me a similar story about a workshop she hosted. When she asked participants if they had this Inner Critic experience like she did, a woman popped right out of her chair and yelled, “Sister Mary Margaret!” It was the voice of a nun who had humiliated her from her days in elementary school — 40 years prior. The sister was long gone but her voice rang on in this woman’s head day after day. So if your voice has a name attached to it, acknowledge the person, living or dead and tell them that their services are no longer needed.
3. Replace. This is the fun part. Now instead of an invasive voice, what if you could choose whose voices you’d like to have in your mind — not to criticize but instead to support you? It’s like having your own Inner Dinner Party. Who would you choose to help you out on a daily basis? These could be inspiring people living or dead. It could be one person or a whole chorus of famous or even fictional characters whom you can assign to have your back.
Personal growth pioneer, Napoleon Hill called this gathering of inspirational folks his Mastermind group. One of our students calls it her Super Friends. Another her posse. Whatever you call it, invite individuals whose examples you find supportive.
4. Rinse and Repeat Now that you’ve Identified the Inner Critic and you’ve recruited your ideal Inner Dinner Party, you just need to continue to thank and dismiss the Inner Critic and call upon your posse instead until your Inner Critic simply withers away. Sure it takes practice, but it is completely within your grasp even if you’ve been listening to a bunch of yuck from your Inner Critic for decades.
So the next time you drop a plate full of food, get a parking ticket, or make a new goal and up pops that nasty critical voice, now you have a way of transforming it.
Have a happy Inner Dinner Party…
Important Note: If your Inner Critic is telling you that you should physically hurt yourself or others then something deeper may be going on and I urge you to seek professional help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.