Friday, April 18, 2008

Self Esteem 101

"There is a voice inside us who speaks down to us and is disempowering. Don't listen!"

I call that voice the inner-critic voice. I have named my inner-critic Fred, so I can actually converse with that critical part of myself and put "him" where it belongs - not in charge of my life!

We all have an inner-critic. Some of us have developed enough self-confidence in life to be able to keep our inner-critic under control. In some cases, we learn to transform it into an inner-ally. How do we create this transformation? The inner-critic becomes the inner-critique, our ally. He reminds us to make certain we are doing our best, becoming a mechanism connected to a value of excellence.

My professional coaching experience has shown me, over the years, that many of us let our inner-critic control our lives in quite a powerful way. An added challenge is that many of us don't even have any awareness of the critic's presence. We just think it is who we are! So, what is the inner-critic, really?

It is a voice inside us who speaks down to us and is disempowering. This voice may start small, discouraging us from taking even the smallest steps toward change or improvement in our lives. However, if we leave this voice unchallenged, it grows to dominate us and our lives. For those of us who are in recovery, we used to call this the voice of the disease. It is that, I agree, and it is much more. Even people who are not challenged by the disease of addiction, have the voice of the inner-critic. Therefore, I must say that the critical voice is not the voice of the disease, but just that addiction is one of the things the inner-critic chooses to keep us small in our lives. I may even take the risk, here, to face quite a reaction from some of you, in recovery, by saying that addiction was simply an act of avoidance of the inner-critic voice! This, my friends, is the truth as I see it.

So we have work to do, as does everyone else who is a human being: we must face our inner demons and transform them into allies. If you meet someone in the street who starts yelling at you and tells you how stupid, incapable and no-good you are, I hope you have the guts to refute what they say! The work at hand is then for you to realize that the inner-critic is often yelling in that fashion, and not only do you not "realize" that this is going on, but you think it is true and you follow that voice.

Coaching question: The first step is to become aware of your inner-dialogue. Once you catch yourself listening to your inner-critic, turn around in your mind and face that part of yourself. I'll say: "Fred, all you want is put me down and I am not going to listen to you anymore!" This may sound ridiculous to you but I assure you it is not! I challenge you to do that mental work and you will experience dramatic results in your life. I recommend giving a name to your inner-critic so it will become easier for you to distinguish yourself from "him" or "her."

Know that YOU are much stronger than your inner-critic, although he may be quite stubborn. It will take some persistence on your part, but I guarantee that you will succeed, and before you know it you will be able to step into your personal power in ways you thought impossible before.

Article by - Ghislaine Mahler is the founder and the driving force behind Living Beyond Recovery. She has been a Life and Executive Coach for the past 12 years and in continuous recovery since 1986. You can contact her at or 203-691-6467 or visit her website at


1 comment: