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Creative Commons License photo credit: Dawn Ashley

I am a strong believer that we are each masters of our own world. Even those who don’t think they are have a deeply causal impact upon their own world. Many such people have a victim mentality. They feel life is doing them and so life does them. Their mentality is that of a victim and so they become victims and are victimized. How could it be otherwise? This points to a very important conclusion about life – Your life is what your thoughts make it!

When it comes to confidence and success the issue is fundamentally the same. Many of us would like to have more self-confidence and all of us wish for success. So I’m going to tell you a secret. Your level of confidence is up to you. That’s right. How confident you are is in your own hands. Perhaps at this point you don’t know how this is so. Don’t worry I wrote this article to show you how your level of self-confidence is a result of some things you have been doing and exactly what you can do about it.


Discovering Your Inner Critic
There is nothing as derailing to your personal self-confidence and success as a negative self-evaluation. At this point you may not even be aware of your own self-evaluations. Regardless of your level of awareness they exist and they are working away at either boosting your confidence levels or dragging you down into a muddy pit of failure.

There are two key modes by which we give ourselves negative self-evaluations. The first is an internal voice that acts as a constant reminder of what we are doing wrong. The second is internal images of failing and making fools of ourselves. The focus of this article is on the internal voice. We each have an internal critic and for many of us our internal critic is quintessentially our worst critic.

Think back now to a specific situation when you really made a mess of things. Maybe you had a presentation or performance to give and you became so nervous that everything went horribly wrong. I know it may be painful but step back into your memory of that event. Notice now the internal voice that was being critical or made disparaging comments about you.

The Tonality of Your Inner Critic
Pay close attention to that internal voice. Is the tone sarcastic or berating? Does the internal voice sound like your own voice or the voice of someone who has been critical of you in the past such as a parent, a sibling, a boss or a teacher? The voice might be loud or it might be soft. It may speak at a rapid pace or be slow. Notice now all the tonal features you can of the voice. Pay especial attention to your emotional response as you listen once again to your inner critic.

Now, experiment with different tonalities. Change the voice to sounds like a cartoon character. Try making it playful, teasing or seductive. Speed it right up so that it is high pitched and clipped. Slow it right down so that it sounds like a super slow instant replay. Notice each time you try a different tonality how your emotional response changes even though the words the voice is saying remains unchanged. Interesting isn’t it? You’ve just experienced what it can be like to take firm control over the reins of your life. We all have control it is simply that many of us just don’t know how to work the reins. Happily it is a skill that can be learnt and mastered just like any other.

Discovering Your Inner Critic’s Positive Intention
You should know that behind every behavior is a positive intention. Think about that in terms of your inner critic. The tonality that it was using may have been negative and sarcastic and it may have had a destructive effect upon your life, however what it was trying to do for you was a positive thing. Now that you know how to change the tonality of your inner critic so that you have power over how it makes you feel lets take a look at discovering its positive intentions.

Again listen to the critical voice you have inside of you and ask it, as if you were having a conversation with another person – “What are you trying to accomplish for me?” Then remain silent and listen to what the voice has to say in response. Commonly it will tell you that it is trying to stop you from making a fool or yourself, it is trying to protect you and is trying to get you to live up to your potential. Keep on asking the voice until you find an intention that you can agree with as positive for yourself.

Once you hear what your inner critic has to say about its reason for doing what it does notice your response. You probably still don’t appreciate the tone it takes (though now you know you can do something about that) but do you appreciate its positive intention? Once you have discovered the positive intention of your critical voice acknowledge this positive intention, agree with it and thank the voice for having this positive intention for you.

Negotiating With Your Inner Critic
Next you might like to ask the voice of your inner critic to join with you in a search for more effective and positive alternatives to what it has been doing. Again talk to your inner voice as if it was another person. Ask, “If there were other ways to express your positive intention that were as good, perhaps even better, then what you are now doing would you be interested in trying them out?” Wait for a positive “yes” response.

Now creatively generate many possible different behaviors for your inner critic to choose from. Present them to the voice and allow it to choose the ones it thinks will work as well or better then what it has been doing. Now actively imagine your inner critic carrying out each of the behaviors it has selected to check how well each works for you. If some do not work very well then go back a step and generate more possibilities. Do this until you have three choices both you and your inner critic like and ask the voice if it will be willing to actually use those choices in the appropriate situation.

Conclusion
Once you gain experience with the process of inner criticism you will come to see the power you can exercise over this process. At this point your own self-confidence comes to rest firmly in your own hands. By becoming tuned into your internal voice and the things that you are saying to yourself you’ll have an easy time checking the speech patterns that are forming roadblocks to your self-confidence, effectiveness and success in life.


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