Did you miss LLCA open enrollment and want us to make an exception?

nl llca logo

Episode 143 Transcript: Making Your Inner Critic Your Ally

Nancy: This negative self-talk keeps us in a comfort zone, afraid to take risks, afraid to try new things. It’s like having an anchor tied to our potential, holding us back from truly flourishing. By recognizing the harmful effects of this inner dialogue, we can find the motivation to challenge and change it.

Nancy: Welcome to the Nancy Levin Show. I’m Nancy Levin, Founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, best-selling author, master coach, and your host. I help overachieving people pleasers set boundaries that stick and own self-worth, anchored in empowered action, so you can feel free. Plus, if you’re an aspiring or current coach, you are in the right place. Join me each week for coaching and compelling conversations designed to support you in the spotlight, as you take center stage of your own life. Let’s dive in. 

Nancy: Welcome back to the Nancy Levin Show. In this episode, we are delving into a crucial aspect of mental wellness – quieting your mind from negative self-talk. And the voice of our inner critic can be relentless,  so today we are going to explore how to soften it, how to challenge it, and ultimately how to transform it into an ally. So we are heading out together on a journey of self-compassion and self-empowerment. 

First, let’s begin by really understanding what our negative self-talk is. That voice inside of us that tells us we’re not good enough, we shouldn’t have even bothered trying, that we’ll never succeed. And really what’s happening is this is a collection of all of the limiting shadow beliefs we have gathered throughout our lives. And the voice we hear isn’t usually our own. It’s a voice from the past that we have integrated, that we have embedded into ourselves to beat ourselves up. So these limiting shadow beliefs stem from past experiences, societal expectations, messages we were told in childhood, or messages we inferred in childhood. The important thing to remember is our shadow beliefs are not facts. They are simply long held ideas about the way the world works and our role within it. Our shadow beliefs do not define who we are or what we’re capable of. This is why it is so essential to address the inner critic. 

The impact of negative self-talk is profound and it can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and it can affect our relationship choices and our career choices. This negative self-talk keeps us in a comfort zone, afraid to take risks, afraid to try new things. It’s like having an anchor tied to our potential, holding us back from truly flourishing. By recognizing the harmful effects of this inner dialogue, we can find the motivation to challenge and change it. 

So let’s look, how do we combat this negative self-talk? First, mindfulness is key. This means becoming an observer of your thoughts. When a negative thought arises, acknowledge it without judgment and then let it pass. It’s not about suppressing these thoughts, but about not letting them control you. 

So what I began doing many years ago now is when the inner critic was at full force inside of me, I would simply say, and most often out loud, “oh, there you are. I’ve been expecting you. I’m turning your volume down now. We are not doing this today“ so I’m acknowledging it. I’m not trying to banish it from the kingdom. I’m simply saying, I see you and I hear you, and I’m not willing to engage. To challenge our inner critic when you catch yourself thinking something negative, pause and ask yourself, could something else be true instead? 

Nancy: Hi, it’s Nancy interrupting my own show. I’ve got a lot of exciting things coming up in 2024, including a brand new book plus a group coaching opportunity, unlike anything else I have ever offered before. To make sure you are in the know, pop on over to my website now and sign up for my free weekly newsletter at nancylevin.com/newsletter so you don’t miss a thing. Okay, back to the show. 

Nancy: Here is a really wonderful trick. When we are looking for what’s wrong, we will find it. Because we have a negativity bias in our brain that science has proven we default to the negative, but we can enlist the skill of instead of focusing on the negative, shifting to the positive.

So what if instead of listening to an inner critic, we were listening to an inner champion. What if for every negative thought we have, we offer a positive one as well. Now, I don’t mean this in a Pollyanna way. What I’m saying is instead of keeping the focus on I’ll never succeed, what if we could also offer ourselves, I believe my success will look different from everyone else’s. So every time we put in a negative, we also add in a positive. This is a practice. 

You know, one of the easiest examples for me to use is when I don’t receive a text back in the timeframe I want it, the natural inclination is to go to the negative. They don’t love me, they don’t wanna have lunch with me, whatever it might be. Instead, what I’m inviting you to do is equal it out with the positive. What could I think instead? I could think maybe their phone ran outta juice or maybe they left their phone at the grocery store, whatever it is, just to help swing the pendulum to the other side. And then we can look at, wow, I have a lot of beliefs to choose from here, and in fact, I won’t know what is true until I actually speak with this friend. And what evening things out does, is it allows us not to sink down the rabbit hole of the negative. So it’s really essential as we’re looking at our negative self-talk to say, this could be true or this could be true. Look at the negative, look at the positive. Am I looking for what’s right or am I looking for what’s wrong? Because wherever we focus our attention is what we are going to bring about. 

Another really positive approach here is to practice self compassion. Speak to yourself as kindly as you would a dear friend. Show yourself kindness. Show yourself understanding. Be gentle with yourself. This doesn’t make you weak, it makes you resilient. 

So as we are continuing to explore ways to transform our inner critic into an ally, I know I already mentioned mindfulness, but I’m going to even bring it home to meditation. When we’re sitting with our thoughts, remember, we don’t have to get on board with every single thought we have. We can be discerning. We can make choices about the thoughts we choose to think. We can lean into our inner cheerleader, our inner champion, instead of leaning into our inner critic. The more we have self connection, practices and rituals, the better we are going to be at this kind of discernment. 

If you currently have a meditation practice or a journaling practice or some self connection practice, I encourage you to stick with it and let it grow. Let it support you, and if you do not already have one in place, I invite you to begin. It can be as simple as setting a timer for one minute to just sit for one minute in silence with your breath and noticing what’s happening in your mind. Grow this to five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes an hour. This is a muscle that is essential to build. How can I learn to sit with my thoughts? How can I shift my thoughts from negative to positive? How can I actually choose what to believe? Mindfulness and meditation especially are incredible tools. 

Many people have a misconception about meditation, that it’s about cleaning out our mind of any thoughts and it is nothing about that. What it is is sitting with your thoughts, recognizing each thought as it enters and allowing it to dissolve. Think about it as a passing cloud or a passing leaf on a stream. You don’t have to attach to every single thought you have. And yet we tend to take our thoughts as our reality. Louise Hay, my dear friend and mentor, used to say, don’t think the thoughts that scare you. We have the power to shift our own thoughts. This is a muscle we need to build. 

So as we are coming to a close of today’s episode, I wanna remind you that quieting the mind from negative self-talk is a continuous journey. It requires patience, it requires practice and perseverance, but the rewards are immeasurable and the kinder inner dialogue leads to a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

I have shared this before, but I’ll share it again because it’s perfect here. I used to be someone who woke up every morning with the first thought in my head being, what do I need to worry about today? I wasn’t even out of bed yet. My eyes were barely open, and instantly the first thought was, what do I need to worry about today? What did that do? It immediately put me into fight or flight mode. It immediately put me into anxiety. It immediately put me into feeling like I’m late. I’m behind the eight ball. And when I consciously shifted my first thought of the morning to be, what is the most self-loving action I can take today? What is the most self-loving choice I can make today? Even right now, I can feel how calming that is to start the day out with putting some attention on me, and what do I need as opposed to what does everyone else out there need from me? 

Take what we have discussed today, start applying it in small ways. Be patient with yourself. Every step forward is a step toward a more loving and empowered relationship with yourself.

Thank you so much for being here with me today. I do hope that this episode supports you in being able to quiet the negative self-talk as you amplify the positive, and I will be with you again next week.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I invite you to head on over to nancylevin.com to check out all the goodies I have there for you. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a rating and a review. I’ll meet you back here next week.