Hood Article

The Inner Voice

Find your fire

Whether you’re looking to turbo-charge your career or fins a better work-life balance, our coach and columnist Kirsty McWilliam can help. This month, she shares her advice on channelling your inner-voice to ensure every part of your mind is reaching for success…

Madonna ringing in my ears reminds of a time when I believed I could do anything I wanted. And with my whole happy life ahead of me at the time, what could possible go wrong?

I think back to a little girl splashing around in her paddling pool, butt-naked and screaming with the joy of not giving a damn. To the tone-deaf girl singing her heart out in the school choir. And then I consider the teen suddenly comparing herself to her friends, the ones with better hair or cooler clothes and a new voice creeps in… one full of doubt.

Who am I talking about? Our glorious inner voice. In everyday life, we each have a narrative in our own head which changes as we age, and the voice behind it can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Reflecting back to my youthful choir days, I remember I felt wonderful singing, it made me feel free. I was in no way thinking of my limitations or others opinions. How about you? Who was the young you, how did she feel, and what changed?

As adults, we naturally start to realise our limitations. But it is how we react to this that will decide whether the inner voice becomes our best friend or our worst critic. When we compare ourselves to others, we sometimes feel we fall short – and we felt that way even before social media ensured we could make constant comparisons to posed for photos, and a world curated to look Insta-perfect. Our inner voice can always be traced back to our self-regard and how we feel about who we are. Self-regard is the foundation of emotional intelligence, but it is not self-esteem, which dictates whether you feel good about yourself but also ignores our limitations. Both high and low self-esteem can be problematic, but self-regard is about liking yourself, warts and all. Having good self-regard means being able to articulate your strengths, but also to accept that you are not perfect – and that that’s ok.

If you are feeling yourself lacking in the self-regard arena, there are a couple of things you can do to help build it up.

Ask yourself; what is the tone and content of your inner voice? Over a period of a week or so, write down what you say about yourself and check how it makes you feel. Would you speak to your friend the way your inner voice speaks to you? What is your inner voice saying to you? Write down all the occasions where you’ve failed to see something through because you’ve spoken yourself down. Be aware of it and reflect on the ways you could have been kinder to yourself.
Now you know what your inner voice sounds like, let’s turn up your positives and tune down the negatives. Barbara Frederickson Ph.D, a psychologist who studies positive emotions, created a three to one ratio of positivity as being the ideal to achieve optimal levels of wellbeing. The theory is that when you have one negative thought, it takes three positive thoughts to counter it. One negative though is not so bad, but if that negative though leads to ten more, you can see how that plays out. This theory helps you recognise the negative and control it with positivity.

When I am coaching a client, I like to call this The Bank of Three. So, what is in your bank? I’d suggest starting with a trio of amazing things about you. Keep relaying them in your head to channel your own little girl confidence. Believe in you – the real and unique you. You can change your thoughts and feelings by changing how you speak to yourself, so find that little girl dancing in the paddling pool and chat to her – she was pretty damn awesome.