The One Who Sneaks:
It is 22:10 at night and I should be sleeping, but I am having a conversation with myself about internal dialogues and its very active participant: the inner critic.
At the centre of my active mind, that should be resting, lies the question:
How could we make the positive voice stronger?
The many names the inner critic go by include Gremlins (Brene’ Brown); Mean Girl (Melissa Ambrosini); whilst others call it a Thief (and rightfully so). The inner critic is that voice in our heads that is always criticizing us, and its comments are always negative.
My inner critic’s name is Manyonyoba (the one who sneaks), aka Manyobs because of the way he/she/ it shows up in my life. It’s always sneaky, catches me unawares at the best of times, disguises as concerned, while playing on my vulnerabilities – same old negative tape.
I have been in this relationship with Manyobs for over 20 years, so I have had ample time to study the character and Manyobs always felt befitting. I encourage you to find a name/ identify the character/ mannerisms of the inner critic because understanding and naming it gives you a level of control on how best to manage it.
I think if we are able to characterize and name our inner critic we should be able to do the same for our inner mentor/guide (the positive voice).
My inner mentor/guide relationship is about 10 years old and there have been a couple of breakups in between, but we have continued to be loyal in our partnership.
I think that the more we expand the role of the inner mentor/guide, the more we will be able to realize its full potential in making ourselves more strong, resilient and inspirational.
How can we nurture this force that is so valuable to our success?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some thoughts:
- Be more aware – I have invested time to understand my inner critic and I think doing the same for our inner mentor/guide is as powerful an exercise. Get to know when it has served you well. My inner guide has helped me to challenge the inner critic. It has helped me remember that I am good enough.
- Give it permission and/or voice – I initially recognize my inner mentor as that positive voice which in the beginning was not strong. The more I trusted it the more I owned my voice. I started to believe in myself more.
- Name it – I called my inner critic Manyonyoba about 8 years ago (there was of course a pity party involved on the day I came up with this name) and I have never thought about a name for an inner mentor until recently: I realized that my inner mentor had to be a mother/nurturer! The positive dialogue/voice is always characterized by unconditional love, support, patience, kindness, etc. A mother figure gives us that, they bring in the shine, the authenticity, the challenging conversations, the no-nonsense attitude, dependability, etc. My inner mentor is Zenziwe – my mother’s name. I think just by giving it a name, it forms more character and more power to challenge and cheer.
I have learnt through my personal story – and many others who I have journeyed with – that the internal dialogues are not meaningless, because you are listening to the internal conversation. The best thing I have ever done for myself is to listen with understanding, and to challenge and support myself to know more about the dialogue and language I use on me. Have a look at this previous blog on building self-esteem.
There is something powerful about a name. Who is your inner mentor/guide and why?
My challenge to you is to identify the character and name of your inner mentor/guide.
I am looking forward to hearing from you about your own experience in this regard.