“The critical inner voice refers to a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward our selves and others…” – Dr. Lisa Firestone
It’s interesting how you come to accept a view of yourself that says, “I’m not ok,” or “I’m not good enough.” You grow up accepting this distorted view as normal, “that’s just the way I am.” You build a case to support your critical inner voice and it’s messages, which come from your heart (core) beliefs.
The struggles you have in life are the consequences of perception, heart beliefs, and behaviors – learned habits. Since they are learned you can unlearn them. You can train yourself to be a complete and successful person. How? Remove and replace the roadblocks of self-doubt, insecurity, low self-worth by changing your heart beliefs.
Critical Inner Voice
A research study about insecurity by Dr.’s Robert and Lisa Firestone revealed that most people view themselves as different in a negative, alienating way. One thing that was clear from the study is that we are all driven to compare ourselves and put ourselves down. It doesn’t seem to matter whether if we have high or low self-esteem, we all seem to compare, evaluate, and judge ourselves with great scrutiny. This then fuels our critical inner voice.
“The critical inner voice is formed out of painful early life experiences in which we witnessed or experienced hurtful attitudes toward us or those close to us. As we grow up, we unconsciously adopt and integrate this pattern of destructive thoughts (heart beliefs) toward ourselves and others.” – Dr. Lisa Firestone, co-author, Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice
Unless we take steps to change our heart (core) beliefs, they become more pervasive as we get older. Our critical inner voice repeats them over and over in our minds, which causes them to grow.
Dr.’s Robert and Lisa Firestone have identified a list of heart beliefs that people say to themselves on a regular basis:
- You’re stupid.
- You’re unattractive.
- You never get anything right.
- You’re not like other people.
- You’re a failure.
- You’re fat.
- You’re such a loser.
- You’ll never make friends.
- No one will ever love you.
- You’ll never be able to quit drinking (smoking etc).
- You’ll never accomplish anything.
- What’s the point in even trying?
- Nobody will like my music.
- Nobody will like my art.
- You’re a bad writer.
- Why can’t you be like _________.
“The critical inner voice refers to a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward our selves and others. The “voices” that make up this internalized dialogue are at the root of much of our maladaptive behavior. This internal enemy fosters inwardness, distrust, self-criticism, self-denial, addictions and a retreat from goal-directed activities. The critical inner voice effects every aspect of our lives: our self-esteem and confidence, our personal and intimate relationships, and our performance and accomplishments at school and work.” – Dr. Lisa Firestone
Connie, from the last posts, revealed more about her childhood during her third visit to Coach Gary’s office.
“I never heard my parents fight or argue, but what I experienced was just as bad. They owned and managed a nursing home for the sick and elderly. My mother was the nurse for the home and my father ran the business end and helped in the kitchen.”
“Since we lived in an apartment in the basement, I was always underfoot. When I was six or seven I walked into a patient’s room and found her dead. The staff walked in, seeing the situation, ushered me outside to play. Being the curious child I was, I came back in and hid in the next room so I could hear what was going on.”
“Nobody ever answered any of my questions, like, ‘Why did she die?’ ‘How did she die?’ ‘Am I going to die?’”
“Didn’t anybody talk to you or explain what happened?” Gary asked.
“Nobody said a word to me, not even my mother.”
“About that same time, I had a near-death experience, as a victim of some older kids, which added to my fears and insecurities. Two boys and a girl came to visit their grandmother in the nursing home. They wanted to go to my room, so I took them into our apartment by a side door.”
“Shortly afterward, my dad came down the stairs to get something out of the cellar. The kids didn’t want him to know they were downstairs so all three of them covered my mouth to keep me from saying anything. Unbeknownst to them, they cut off my air supply.”
“By the time my dad went back upstairs, I wasn’t moving. When they removed their hands and saw my lifeless body they ran out the side door. I could see my body laying on the bed from the ceiling. I have no idea how long this event lasted.”
“He saw the kids run out the side door from the upstairs window. Perhaps that’s when he came down to check on me. I have no idea.”
“Were you sexually assaulted?” Gary asked.
“After that event, my dad said it was his fault he didn’t protect me. He seemed very remorseful, but that was the end of it. In fact, I was told to never bring it up again and when I asked questions I was severely beaten, which made me even more insecure and introverted.”
“What did your mother say about him beating you?” Gary asked.
“She didn’t say anything to me, nothing. In fact, from that time on I was sent to my grandmother’s during the summer break. Still, no explanation. No conversation. No questions answered. Nothing from nobody.”
Tears began to form in Connie’s eyes. Gary scooted a Kleenex box over by her. She wiped her eyes and took several deep breaths before continuing. Gary sat quietly waiting.
“I had been my dad’s shadow. I went everyplace with him. After that fateful day, I wasn’t asked to accompany him on his trips. I didn’t know why.”
“Did he treat you differently?” Gary asked.
“Actually, yes,” she said tilting her head like she was thinking.”He seemed to make fun of me and treat me like I was spoiled meat or something. I think that added to my insecurity more than anything else. He had been my best friend then he didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“As I got older I became more and more withdrawn. That critical voice in my head would constantly be going:”
- “You’re different than the other kids.”
- “They’re never going to like you.”
- “You’re going to die too.”
- “The kids don’t like you.”
- “See, they’re making fun of you again.”
- “You’re a failure.”
- “Nobody wants you around.”
- “Your dad doesn’t want you around anymore.”
“As I progressed through school, I never tried very hard. It was actually easy for me, but I could have done so much better if I had applied myself. But, the critical voice in my head seemed to always take priority over studying and anything else I tried to do.”
“When I was in junior high my parents divorced and sold the nursing home. It had gotten so bad between them that they never spoke. I haven’t seen or heard from my dad since the day he walked out. After that day, my mother always bad-mouthed him, tell me that men were just users. I believed her because of the way my dad treated me.”
“I lived with my mother until I moved to Knoxville. She became a bitter old woman.”
Connie paused for several seconds then looked up, “I don’t want to be like her.”
“How did your meeting go with James, last week?” Gary asked. “I expected a call from you, but you didn’t call.”
Connie’s face brightened up, “It went really well. In fact, we stayed in the Square until most of the shops were closed. We had a great conversation. He was very respectful. We agreed to call and text each other. He’s going to come down on weekends when he can. We’ll see where it goes. Neither of us is in a hurry.”
“I’m so glad,” Gary said. “What about your heart belief that men are just users?”
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that,” she said. “I didn’t see anything from James that pointed in that direction or from you either. I think that was just my mother’s bitterness toward my dad.”
She paused, “I was concerned about him trying to give me a hug, but he didn’t make any move in that direction. That kind of eased my fears.”
“Have you replace that heart belief?”
“I think so,” she said looking very pensive. “I’m not going to jump quickly, but viewing it as my mother’s bitterness, the heaviness seems to be lifting. I’ve heard her bitter voice a few times, but I did as you told me and said the opposite to what that critical voice said. ”
“Awesome. Keep doing it,” Gary said. “I also have some questions for you to answer. Write as much as you can for each question. I think they will help you see things differently, also. You have the God-given power within to change your heart beliefs for a happier, more satisfying life.”
Unless a person has a very serious mental or emotional issue, self-coaching is really better than counseling and some life coaching because you have to take responsibility for change. Some psychologist like Joseph Luciani, Ph.D., assist with self-coaching rather than therapy because it has proven to be more effective.
Why is self-coaching more effective? Counselors and therapist often are just listeners. The client, then, expects the therapist to tell them what to do, to take the responsibility for change. But it doesn’t usually work. Many clients go into the therapist’s office unload what was on their mind but make no commitment to change. They feel somewhat better just because they could talk about it, but there is no change. The therapist may make suggestions, but they rarely do what they were told.
Like Ben Franklin said, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” Most people are stubborn and resist change, especially, if someone else is trying to get them to change.
In Self-Coaching you do the studying, you find the heart beliefs you need to change, and you choose to take the steps to change them. Then, if you need help you seek out someone to help you through a difficult part. But for the most part, you can make the changes yourself.
Actually, each one of us has the inner power to make the necessary changes. Each one of us has the inner power to stop feeling victimized by our critical inner voice that keeps repeating the heart (core) beliefs that were planted in our minds years ago.
You have the power to change those negative heart (core) beliefs, replace them with positive heart (core) beliefs so your inner voice can feed them to you in a continuous stream.
You have a choice. You can change. You don’t have to be stuck any longer. It’s your choice to no longer feel victimized by circumstances, self-doubt, insecurity. It’s your choice to be who God created you to be. It’s your choice to tap into the power within you.
The power within is God-given, you were created with it. You don’t have to create it or develop it, just learn how to tap into it and use it.
Many times people will try to change their behavior or monitor their words for change, but that is not real change. It is “will power.” When a person uses “will power” to control their feelings, words, and behavior it doesn’t work because it’s not real change, it’s just a temporary fix.
Step by Step Process
The following exercise is provided as an aid to assist you in identifying and becoming aware of your Negative Heart (core) Beliefs. Make sure that you allow adequate time to be still and quiet any distracting thoughts.
The examples above may give you some ideas about the thoughts and voices you hear.
The thoughts may come in keywords or phrases or feelings instead of complete sentences. If so, write down what you hear and turn them into complete sentences later.
It also may take several settings before you complete all the questions. It’s better to take your time and do a thorough evaluating instead of rushing through. Your Negative Heart Beliefs did not develop overnight. They aren’t going to disappear overnight.
You may want to journal your thoughts on a daily basis. There are several online apps such as Thought Diary for Android. Etc. I keep Thought Diary on my phone and when I become aware of a negative thought or feeling I make an entry in my Diary.
You can enter as much or as little as you want. Make sure it’s enough for later evaluation. It’s best if you can write down the whole thought, like, “I’m not wanted”, “I’m not good enough”, “You’re right, I’m wrong”, “I can’t do anything right” then expound on it later.
The full set of questions click here.
- When I evaluate my thoughts, I realize that I need the most attention with the following Negative Heart Belief, as listed above…
- When I evaluate my Negative Heart Belief, I see that they have caused me to believe these things about myself…
- When I evaluate what I believe about myself, I see that these Negative Heart Beliefs cause me to behave in this way…
- When I listen to the language I use in conversations, I see that my language is affected by my Negative Heart Beliefs in this way…
- I realize my Negative Heart Beliefs are negatively affecting how I treat myself in these ways…
Access the rest of the questions here.
Make a list of your negative thoughts. Find the opposite for each negative thought.
- People need to change for me to be happy.
- My happiness doesn’t depend on anyone else.
- I worry about everything.
- I going to change my worry into the peace that God gives.
- I’m always wrong.
- I made a mistake. It’s okay. I forgive myself.
Conclusion – Power For Change
During each day take some time to relax and allow yourself to believe that you have the God-given power within you to make the necessary changes. You have the power within to exchange your Negative Heart Beliefs for Positive Heart Beliefs.
You have the power within to exchange the Critical Inner Voice for a Positive-Encouraging Inner Voice. Your Critical Inner Voice does not need to hold you hostage.
You can’t make the necessary change by executing “will power.” You have to exchange the Negative Heart Beliefs for Positive Heart Beliefs.
At first, take just a few seconds to imagine your new life. Accept it as true. Don’t fight it. Begin to feel it. The important thing is to begin feeling what it’s like to be empowered and not victimized. It will get easier.
Also, as I have recommended before when you have a negative thought or feelings or behavior, DO THE OPPOSITE. So, when negative belief’s and feelings pop into your mind, you change it to the opposite thought which will begin to allow you to feel the opposite feeling, and thereby, facilitate the opposite behavior. For example:
“No, I am not thinking that I am thinking about my spouse and how much I love them and about God’s grace to me.”
“No, I am not thinking that I am thinking about how God is my supply. We have more than enough.
“No, I am not thinking that I am so blessed to have this job.”
“No, I am not thinking that I know, with God’s help, that I can make this business successful.”
“No, I am not thinking that I am so blessed to have the family I have.”
Get the point!!! You can do this.