Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are
In my previous column I discussed how our self-limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs, well, limit and sabotage us. At the essence of these beliefs, is the little voice in our heads – which writers have given various names: our inner critic, critical voice, gremlin, etc.
Way back in the 70’s, Timothy Gallwey called it our Self 1. His logic went something like this. If we hear a voice then there are two Selfs, Self 1 and Self 2. (Don’t worry, you’re not schizophrenic!) Self 1 criticises us, telling us things like:
“You know you’re not smart enough to win this argument”
“You’re useless when it comes to finances”
“You can’t play a backhand to save your…”
And so on.
It’s really not surprising that this goes on in our heads, though. After all, despite what we might think, our brain’s primary purpose is apparently not to think, but to protect us – so this is all Self 1 is trying to do. The problem is that we give Self 1 too much airtime and power. We accept everything he or she says as gospel, hence the debilitating, limiting or sabotaging aspect happening inside us. If we are not careful, our self-belief, self-image and self-confidence will sink so low that we will struggle to do anything.
However, there’s good news here too. The reality is that we have achieved a lot of stuff in our lives, when we really think about it. What happened in these instances? Well, put simplistically, Self 2 didn’t listen to Self 1 and just got on with outsmarting the other person, transcending their fear of finances, going for the backhand rather than running around the ball to use their forehand, and so on. In doing so, Self 2 shut Self 1 up, and he or she succeeded.
True, we should probably acknowledge what Self 1 says, thanking him or her for the warning. The trick is not to take that warning as absolute, just as a warning to be cautious. We (Self 2) still have a choice, a choice whether to trust Self 1 or to trust ourselves. We will find that if we build that trust-in-ourselves ‘muscle’, we won’t allow ourselves to be debilitated as often, and we will be able to layer little (or big) successes on top of each other. The result: more and more self-belief, a better self-image and growing self-confidence. Sounds like a real win to me!
I found a little booklet on my shelf this week called “Pete Cohen’s Habit-Busting Boost Your Self-Esteem”. I have meant to read it for years but just never got around to it. Turns out, I would have found it really helpful in my work – on page 2, he says:
“Low self-esteem is a habit, a behaviour that you have learned and practised so often that it has become second nature. You have hardwired your brain to believe that you are not good enough. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”
In several previous columns I have emphasized how we can substitute our bad habits with better habits that serve us better. And at the end of this column, I will provide you with a practice that will enable you to do so in this instance too.
Before we get there, Cohen asks us to remember three absolute truths:
- Every human has positive worth
- Other people’s reactions to what you do and say are just that – other people’s reactions
- Every person has within them all the strengths and resources necessary to change into the person they want to be.
So, what can you do about your inner critic? How can you empower yourself rather than her or him? Well, in my last column I introduced you to a tool called S.N.A.P. and I am going to suggest you use it here too by doing the following each day:
- Stop several times a day, step back, and take a big breath.
- Notice what you are thinking, what your self-talk is, what your inner critic is saying – and notice how you feel about this internal conversation.
- Ask yourself:
- What is my belief behind what my inner critic is saying?
- How does this belief make me feel?
- Is the belief true? Really true?
- Who might I be if I let go of this belief?
- Pivot: Trust yourself (Self 2) and do what you (Self 2) know deep down is right and true.
Good luck and enjoy the process!
I’d love to hear your experiences around this topic, whether it’s about your Self 1 or about how you transcend him or her.
If you would like further support with silencing your Self 1 and trusting Self 2 or with SNAP, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to have a conversation with you and provide you with my recommendation without any obligation or cost to you.
We all tend to find ways to get in our own way in our lives. Let’s work together to resolve how to get out of our own way.
Thank you for reading this week’s newsletter. Please take care of yourself and stay healthy.
Until next week.