There is a concept that we work with a lot in coaching which revolves around our “Inner Critic” or “Gremlins”. Intuitively we all know what that means. They are those voices inside our heads which are quick to chime in with their negative criticisms and self-defeating rants. None of us seem to be immune from their punishing voice, no matter how self-aware we may be. At times they are an active tribunal of punishing judges who deliver their harsh verdicts without ever giving us a chance at a fair trial and sometimes if you want to move forward you simply have to confront them.
The first step is recognizing the sound of their voice. At times it can be difficult to tease out the sound of your critic amongst the myriad of thoughts we may be having as they are masters of disguise, but it is possible. It requires a training of your inner ear to listen not just for the sound of our harshest critics but to the messages that they are spewing. If there is someone in there telling you “you can’t do it” no matter what “it” may be – likely we are on the trail of one of the little troublemakers. Adjusting your thought process to be aware of their presence is the key to vanquishing the little varmints.
How you choose to work with them is a whole other step entirely. You may use some creative visualization exercise to toss them away, or send them to bed. You may develop an inner armor to shield yourself from their negative blows. Or simply develop counter messages which you use to overpower the negative ones that they are tossing at you. Given the abstract nature of the entire conceptualization the only bounds here are those of your imagination. In my imagination the gremlins often take on the look of those “cold germs” in the pharmaceutical ads who meet their end when the subject takes whatever medication is being hawked in the advertisement. Whatever works for you, there are no limits.
The amazing thing is – that a simple mental exercise can have a pretty profound effect. Changing “the voices in your head” from those of a harsh personal critic to a supportive champion has a real impact. After all, even for those of us who are strongly impacted by those around us, we spend the most time listening to ourselves. So treat yourself with a little kindness, champion your own self and work toward recognizing and transforming the enemy within, you deserve it.