Someone once said to me, “Dave, when you talk to yourself, watch your language!” Good advice I’ve tried to never forget. Most every leader engages in self-talk at one time or the other. I know I do. What are we saying to ourselves?  Positive or negative things? Unfortunately, a lot of it is negative. Dan Rockwell shares five ways to expose and deal with your inner critic, your inner voice, your negative self-talk.

Guest post by Dan Rockwell

Don’t ignore a loud inner critic. You talk to yourself constantly. It’s often ugly. Leaders overthink, second guess, and criticize themselves.

Your worst enemy doesn’t berate you like your own inner voice.

Your inner critic uses imagined failure against you.

Imagined failure:

Self-defeating behaviors first live in your head.

Imagined failure destroys confidence. Confidence and resolve cower in the face of self-accusation. Stagnation follows doubt. Dreams stagger and fall.

You box the air when you try to answer imagined failings. It’s futile to take a swing at phantoms.

You can’t solve imagined failure.

You tell yourself you’re succeeding, but your inner judge doesn’t believe it. Compliments are deflected with self-accusations.

5 ways to expose your inner critic:

Expose self-accusations to the light.

You lose when you secretly argue with an absurd beast. You find relief from your inner saboteur when you expose it.

  1. Notice negative self-talk. Don’t resist. Just notice. “Yup, that’s another self-accusation.”
  2. Make a list of everything your inner accuser says to you. Inner critics shrink when you expose their lies.
  3. Notice generalizations. You always screw up. Everyone thinks you’re dumb. Don’t worry about answering your inner saboteur.
  4. Talk about your inner critic with people you trust. Silence empowers the enemy. If you care for yourself develop relationships that withstand honest conversations about inner demons.
  5. Name the inner judge that lives in your head. Naming is power. Notice your inner voice is often someone else, a boss, parent, or bully.

Self-sabotage isn’t your friend. It never strengthens relationships. It hates happiness. It believes satisfaction is a dangerous enemy.

The most powerful words you hear are the ones you say to yourself.

What suggestions do you have for people who grapple with self-accusation?

Still curious:

How to Quiet a Loud Inner Critic and Stop Bossing Yourself Around

Living With the Inner Critic

Positive Intelligence