Humans have studied our thought life for thousands of years. Buddhists call our every talking mind the monkey’s mind. The desert monks called it logismoi, which is our thoughts or imagination. Today we call it our stream of consciousness or our thought life. The most recent studies from Queens University in Ontario says that we have about 6,200 thoughts per day. In previous decades, studies have said that we have 60,000 thoughts a day. Whether it is 6000 or 60,000, 80 to 90% for some people are negative. And while these aren’t necessarily what we call the inner critic, our thought life can turn into an inner critic.
Some of us even use our inner voice as a compass. We use it as an example of why we can’t do something. We may say it keeps us in line with our beliefs and the world as we perceive it. Changing that kind of behavior is tough. Looking at ourselves in depth is not a process many of us want to do. If we’re going to silence or change our inner critic, it’s going to take repeated behavior to unlearn. It didn’t start overnight, so it will not end in a single podcast.
Around the year 1000 the Persian physician Ibn Sina said,
In the early 20th century, Henry Ford said,
So when we say I can’t do X… or I’m ugly… or I can’t sing… or I’m not able to be on time… or I can’t lose weight. We are just reaffirming the negative self-talk and our bad voice wins. When we repeat it, it becomes our outer critic, our expression of what we truly believe about ourselves. When we say something out loud, we have bought into it wholeheartedly. Even if it’s not true, and most of what we say to ourselves isn’t true.
Most negative thoughts we tell ourselves come from our childhood and adolescent years. But we can develop negative self-talk as adults. Our inner critic, which pervades our thought life, is more than likely a voice from your past. A parent, a friend, a teacher, a significant other who has said something to you you took to heart. And just like the negative self-talk has been learned, it can be unlearned. You can learn to talk to yourself in a way that isn’t critical or belittling. It is possible to give yourself personal support and to talk to yourself motivationally. You can become your own life coach through the words you use when you talk to yourself.
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