Don’t be your own worst enemy, be your own best friend!

Imagine you are sitting in a restaurant or bar and your best friend walks in. What do you say? It usually goes a little bit like this…

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“Oh wow, it’s amazing to see you! It’s been too long and I’ve missed you! You look amazing, I love you’re your hair and your dress looks amazing...” etc.

Now imagine getting dressed to go out to meet your friend and looking in the mirror, what do you think? Is it the same as when you see your friend? Of course not! It can very often be more like this;

“Oh wow, why did I eat that curry last night I knew I had to lose weight? My hair looks terrible and this dress makes me look huge...” etc

When we see our friends we would NEVER say these things to them but we are quite happy to say it to ourselves, but why? Because we can! Because thinking these things about ourselves can feed into, and support, belief systems that we have had for years, or even maybe, the whole of our lives. 

Our inner voices originate from areas called core beliefs and belief systems. These are developed in our minds over many years and can be influenced by areas such as our families, friends, media, religion etc.

An example of this is our culture’s obsession with fame and celebrity culture. We believe that these people are rich and therefore happy so that is what we should do as it is obviously a fact. However many celebrities are depressed, anxious or suffer from substance abuse. On the other side, those people chasing this lifestyle may also develop anxiety through failure or become in debt as they compulsively buy the latest celebrity-endorsed product in order to live this fantasy life where happiness is “guaranteed”. 

As our core beliefs and inner voice can have dramatic effects on our emotional and mental health including our self-confidence and self-esteem we really need to ask ourselves… are they actually true?

Many of us suffer from something we call a negative cognitive bias. This is when we pay attention to things that support our deeply held beliefs and ignore those things that go against them because we feel that these things must be wrong.

Evolutionary psychologists believe that this is an adaptive defence mechanism that has aided our ancestor's survival by making them safe. Being cautious, wary and avoiding novel (maybe dangerous) situations was a huge advantage to prehistoric humans as these careful behaviours allowed them to survive. 

In the modern world these thought processes are not as necessary so can now be more of a hindrance than a help. As modern humans, however, we have larger outer cortexs designed for rational thought and logic, for more information see my article Brain power: How many brains do you have?

During my empowerment coaching sessions, I help people to take back control of their inner voice as it can be detrimental to our emotional and mental health. This can be an effective tool towards increasing confidence, self-esteem and resilience. The key questions we have to ask are;

  1. Is what my inner voice saying true?
  2. If the thoughts are true, how does that make me feel and how I can change it?
  3. If the thoughts are untrue what effect are they having on me?
  4. What if the core belief itself is wrong in the first place?

This is a technique called disputing which originates from work by Cognitive Psychologists such as Ellis and Beck.For more on Ellis see my article Why we should try to always look on the bright side of life.

Disputing is the process of objectively analysing our thoughts, inner voice and belief system by asking questions using the following techniques;

  1. Logical disputing: Self-defeating beliefs do not logically follow information e.g. does thinking this way make sense?
  2. Empirical disputing: Self-defeating beliefs may not be consistent with reality e.g. where is the proof this is accurate?
  3. Pragmatic disputing: Emphasises the lack of usefulness of self-defeating beliefs e.g. how is this belief helping me?

An example of this in an empowerment coaching session could be if a client reports feeling that they will "never"get the promotion they are applying for we could dispute and discuss that thought, for example;

  • Logically, this thought does not make sense as you have all of the experience, qualifications and qualities the job requires. They would be lucky to have you working there.
  • Empiricallyspeaking you have been offered an interview, supporting the view that you do have a chance. Also looking back at past experiences you have got nearly all of the jobs you have ever applied for.
  • Pragmatically, how is this thought process helping you? Having this negative irrational thinking style will only increase your anxiety about the interview making it harder. Think rationally such as, “I hope to get the job and will try my best but if I don’t get it maybe it’s not the job for me and I can apply for another one". This thought process will allow you to stay calmer and more in control during the interview process which will also increase your chances of being successful!

This technique is incredibly powerful as it allows people to see that even though most of our thoughts are automatic and out of our control we can regain that control by ensuring the thoughts that are having such a huge impact on us are actually true!

So next time you look in the mirror or feel a sense of imposter syndrome, try to assess if these feelings are actually true. Be your own best friend and focus on what you are good at or how beautiful your own smile is and you can start to reverse these unhelpful and hurtful thoughts.

My mum always says if you can’t say anything nice say nothing at all and we need to take this advice, not only when speaking to other people but also when speaking to ourselves. So go on and try to take control of your inner voice by stopping being your own biggest bully and be your own best friend!

If you find it difficult or need additional help to control your inner bully this is a key aspect of empowerment coaching and the benefits are incredible! If you would like help or support finding your inner best friend please contact me.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Rayleigh, Essex, SS6
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Written by Rosslyn Whellams, BSc in Psychology and a Diploma in Emotional Health Coaching
Rayleigh, Essex, SS6

My name is Rosslyn Whellams and I am an Empowerment Coach and Psychology Teacher living in Rayleigh, Essex. I offer in person or online affordable, effective and tailored individual Empowerment Coaching as well as set courses and programs. My goal is to help my Clients improve their lives by finding and increasing their Emotional Empowerment!

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