How to switch off your self-sabotaging inner voice. (For keeps).
I was inspired to write this by one of my gorgeous readers who reached out to me recently. How she described her current mindset resonated with me so much, she virtually described my exact, destructive inner voice from about 10 years ago.
From being completely unable to feel gratitude for anything I had (as much as I tried), to almost willing bad things to happen to me so I could prove myself right and take some sick satisfaction that all my overthinking was justified, I'd worked myself into such a negative space, I couldn't possibly see a way out.
The similarities between mine and my reader's stories were so uncanny, I figured it must be something many more of you are struggling with too. Thankfully 🙏🏻 I don't talk to myself that way anymore, and I've learnt how to stop self-sabotaging my own life too, so I want to share the process of how I did it.
Let the victim leave the room.
I think the very first step of the process is to make a noted effort to pull yourself out of the victim zone. You have more power over this than you think you do. You may think that 'this is just the way I am' because being self-critical and self-sabotaging is the only inner voice you ever remember hearing, but y'see listening to it is in fact a choice that you're making. It's behaviour you've learnt and are choosing to practice in your everyday life. (Which is awesome because that also means you can choose differently and un-learn it too). And that's what you're gonna do today – you're gonna finally choose differently and say to yourself right now, that you're not accepting this sh*te anymore 💪🏻 rarrrrrr! 😁
You're probably never gonna escape your critical inner voice altogether, but you can always choose to ignore it.
Stop feeling the guilt.
If you're constantly telling yourself, 'Man, there's way more important things in the world to worry about than my stupid self-sabotaging. Who am I to get so caught up in my own nonsense, when some people don't even have food to eat? Am I that freaking self-absorbed? What the hell is wrong with me?!'
(All conversations I've had with myself btw. On multiple occasions).
But what if I told you that, no actually – right now, the most important thing for you to do is to work on overcoming your own self-sabotaging. Because yes, of course there's lots of major things going on in the world, maybe even major things going on in your immediate world, that need a hell of a lot of help, attention and fixing. But y'see, you're not gonna be able to offer anything of true value to any of those causes, when you're in the headspace you're in. So perhaps try and look at it this way instead 👉🏻 you have a duty to yourself, the people around you and the world to work through your issues, as your priority. So you can be the best version of you – for you, and for everyone else.
If it helps you to switch your sense of duty from selfish to selfless, then use that as motivation to stop feeling all this ridiculous guilt you're carrying, simply from needing to acknowledge some issues you've buried. All this guilt is doing, is providing you with yet another dose of excuse-fuel to continue to stoke your self-sabotaging-fire 🔥
Start bud-nipping when you hear that voice.
When self-sabotaging and self-criticism have become so ingrained in your psyche from years and years of practice, I wholly appreciate how hard it is to pick it out and notice how and when your spirals of negativity kick off. But it's a key exercise to do all the same 👉🏻 to pinpoint and become aware of your triggers. It's an essential part of the process y'see as it allows you to become more objective, and understand your behaviour so much better.
When we start pinpointing these triggers and noticing when they arise, we're arming ourselves with a whole new choice we never had before: to act the same as we always have, or choose a different outcome. Maybe you live with your partner and they're a little bit late home from work. Perhaps your usual, default response was to let your mind race to a million miles an hour, overthinking about where they might be, who they might be with, how you can strategically get a hold of their phone later to check up on them in secret, how you're gonna jump down their throat when they do get back...whizz whizz whizz...the spiral of negativity is never-ending. That's choice one. Choice two instead could be, remembering that there's roadworks on the main road by your gaff, they did have a meeting today that could've finished late too, so let's just pop on the kettle and check out what we're gonna watch together on TV tonight when they do get back. And breeeeeeeathe. Now which one's going to make you feel a bit better in your day-to-day hmmm? 🤔
1. Make a concerted effort to recognise when Little Miss Self-Sabotage arrives at your metaphorical door.
2. Then choose to close said door in her face and say 'Not today love' (as opposed to letting her in to run wild, tearing the place up as she goes, as per usual).
Question if you're reliving your past, or living your 'right now'.
It probably sounds a bit cliché to always apply adult issues to childhood trauma, but hear me out, because there's soooo much evidence out there to backup the fact that your destructive inner voice actually started its journey in early childhood.
Lisa Firestone who co-authored a book called Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, has done decades of research on the subject, and herself, and her father, have got a crazy amount of juice on the subject if you wanted to read further ☝🏻 check it out.
This might sound bizarre when you first think about it, because why the hell would you want to relive the crappy experiences of your past, and continually reinforce that they're true? You know they were traumatic and stressful, and that's why you've tried to forget about them and bury them!
But when you think about it, because they're things you've been through before, they're things you've also learnt to adapt to, so they're ironically familiar and comforting to you, even if they're bulging in negativity at the same time. Maybe you felt a sense of abandonment as a child, which forced you to become fiercely independent as a coping mechanism at the time (*cough* 🙋🏻). Transfer this into adulthood, and you're likely to reinforce the belief that you don't ever need anybody to help you, and you create an environment that makes it near impossible for you to let people in, even when you desperately need or want them there. But you just don't know any different. Your self-sabotaging voice can go to the lengths of affecting not only how you treat yourself, but how people treat you too.
Try to recall your past and use a journal or a piece of paper to document what you find. Don't feel self-conscious or guilty about what you write down either, this isn't for anyone's eyes but your own. Also bear in mind that your memories don't need be as traumatic as physical or mental abuse to still have a huge impact on your adult behaviour. Simple, everyday things like a parent always seeming too busy to spend time with you, or sometimes being short-tempered with you when you'd done nothing wrong, can all explain the control your critical inner voice has had on you. (And remember, this isn't about trying to attach blame to a parent or anyone else, for one, they most likely have their own issues their parents and experiences gave them! And two, this is about taking yourself out of the victim zone, taking responsibility for your choices as a grown-up, and understanding your behaviour to enable you to change it).
Being honest with you, a big part of this process for me, involved me seeing a therapist for a while. I was quite deep into my self-sabotage y'see and I was suffering from depression at the same time (a common pairing, along with anxiety too btw), so I knew at the time I needed some impartial help away from friends and family. Mainly just to help me identify the root of all this and why I kept putting myself through it. As it turned out, I'd acquired a bunch of childhood issues I'd completely buried – to the extent that I almost described them like a newsreader, with zero emotional attachment. I was like 'yeah this and this and this happened, but it's totally fine, I don't think they've affected me...' Turns out I had abandonment issues (for me this manifested into a subconscious need to have someone to 'complete' me, along with a ridiculous amount of independence that I don't need anybody – fun conflict of emotions right?! 😁). I also had confrontation and aggression issues (I was so petrified by confrontation I couldn't communicate my true feelings at all in fear of how others might react), and trust issues...in fact, all the issues you can probably think of tbh! It wasn't instant, but the discovery of these things was so freeing, and the fact that everything just began to make so much sense and piece itself together, it allowed me to take back control and get back into the driving seat of my previously reckless-driver mind.
It's one thing to 'own' your glossed-over past and appreciate that it's played a valuable part in forming your character, but it's quite another to consciously explore that past, piece by piece and relate specific experiences to your current behaviours. And while you may not need to go to the lengths of professional help (only you can decide that), perhaps talking to someone you trust about things that may have impacted you, or making a concerted effort to take time to identify past experiences of your self-sabotaging (maybe by reading and/or studying how by yourself) is so so empowering honey.
I hope some of the points in this post have helped start you off on your journey to switching off your self-sabotaging voice. And as it's my birthday today 😎 if you know someone who really needs to read this, it'd just be the coolest pressie ever if you could share this with them.
If there's a particular topic you'd love for me to write about. Hit me up here, I can't wait to hear from your gorgeous face 😊 until next weekend lovely 💋