How did you speak to yourself the last time you had “one of those days”? You know, those days when from the moment you open your eyes you sense that it’s going to be a slog. Simple tasks, like packing your lunch, feel like an ordeal. More complex and demanding tasks, like work or taking care of the kids, feel insurmountable. You struggle through feeling clumsy, indecisive and overwhelmed.

The impact of your self-talk on days like this cannot be overstated. Even on regular days what you say to yourself and the tone in which you say it has a profound effect on how you feel about your relationships, your past, your future, the world around you and most importantly, how you feel about yourself.

So what’s your inner commentary generally like? When the going gets tough do you speak to yourself with kindness and compassion? Or does your inner critic come out to play, beating you up and judging you from every angle? If you’re unsure, be curious over the next little while. Becoming aware of your inner critic is the first step to towards changing it.

Try to notice of some of the phrases that you repeatedly say to yourself. How does your self-talk compare with how you speak to family or friends? What sort of situations activate your compassionate inner voice? How do they compare to situations that tend to trigger your critical inner voice? Does your inner critic remind you of anyone you’ve known (past or present)? Perhaps a parent, a teacher or a bully?

Become aware of the subtle nuances of your self-talk as it shifts from being motivating and encouraging to demanding and harsh. Are there any changes in the tone or volume of your self-talk? Do you notice any changes in your body as the inner critic becomes louder? What sorts of things does your inner critic tell you that you can’t do? Or shouldn’t do? Or aren’t capable of? What sort of person does your inner critic say you are? What does your inner critic have to say about how other people see you? What about your future, what is your inner critic’s opinion on that?

If you feel like your self-talk could do with a little (or a lot) of tweaking, take a look at part two of this blog. We open up further questions that will help you to get to know your inner critic on a deeper level. The most important ingredient in harnessing your inner critic is becoming more conscious of it’s impact on your life and how you feel about yourself as a person.