Pivoting – How to Stop Your Inner Critic from Running Your Life
One of my favorite tools to use in coaching is pivoting. It’s both a simple yet potent technique to break negative thought patterns, disrupt disempowering thoughts, and help overcome fear of failure. Pivoting offers an opportunity for greater self-awareness and more self-supportive commentary. If you’re ready to change your inner narrative from critic to coach, continue reading to learn the powerful process of pivoting.
Imagine you were having a boss that was constantly criticizing you, talking negatively about yourself and others, talking down on you, and making you feel small. My bet is, you’d be frantically searching for a new job in a healthier working environment. Yet when it comes to our own thoughts, many of us are putting up with a ‘boss’ like that for years – and what’s even worse, believing whatever it is they have to say.
The ‘boss’ I’m talking about is a voice inside your head you’re probably very familiar with: your inner critic. If you’re tired of this invalidating and disempowering voice running your life but don’t know how to quieten or change it, pivoting might just be the technique you’ve been looking for.
Introducing: The Inner Critic
We all have this critical, nagging voice inside of us. Yours may be loud and dominant, never holding back, or it might be more sly and subtle. It might try and tear you down through comments like “Wow, you look terrible. And you’ve gained weight, too. It’s true what they’re all saying – you’re just not good enough and never will be.” Or it might be more into guilt-tripping you into doing things it deems more likable, responsible, or a better use of your time – even though deep down you know better.
No matter what your inner voice sounds like, listening to it and allowing it to control your actions ultimately creates the same results: more stress, anxiety, and irritability in your inner life as well as frustration in your outer life.
Don’t allow inner fault-finding and judgmental comments to cut you off from expressing the very best version of yourself.
In Yogic philosophy, we call this nagging voice the negative mind. The negative mind is one of the three aspects of the mind and is given for survival and protection. Its main goal is to keep you safe. It is sensitive and reactive to physical and emotional pain and constantly searches for potential dangers.
Your negative mind serves an important and necessary purpose. When it is balanced, you are aware of the power of ‘no’ and use this to act based on whether a longing is coming from your soul or has only been put there by society.
But in today’s world, filled with anxiety, excessive worrying, constant complaining, and disaster after disaster on the evening news, the negative mind has gone into overdrive and turned into this inner critic that seemingly won’t ever shut up.
Pivoting – How to turn negative commentary into a source of personal growth
First things first: You won’t ever get your inner critic to shut up completely. But with some awareness and practice, you can help that voice develop and grow until it becomes your Inner Coach. Here are three steps that will allow you to shift toward positive self-talk, inner gentility, and enhanced overall wellbeing.
Step 1 – Become familiar with the voice inside your head
The first step of the pivoting process is about identifying your inner critic’s commentary. Any process of growth starts with awareness. Really tune in and listen to everything your negative mind has to say. Be brutally honest and observe everything your inner critic comes up with for a day or two. You may even want to write it down, painful as it may be. Maybe you’ll even find some common themes in the comments you observe.
Step 2 – Question your thoughts
You are not the voice inside your head. You may not have a choice in the thoughts that come up, but you always have the choice of what you believe. Maybe this negative commentary served a version of you in the past, but you are here now and have the power to choose differently.
One thing I like to do with potentially disempowering thoughts is to ask myself the following question: “Is this kind, true, or necessary?”
Yes, sometimes you need a little bit of tough love. Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes it’s important to call yourself out on your BS.
But more often than not, the answer to this question will be no. And if that’s the case, it’s time to let that thought go.
Step 3 – Flip the script
This final step of pivoting on your thoughts is about disrupting the negative thought spiral and allowing yourself to change the narrative of your life.
Some questions that are supportive of this are: “What am I sacrificing by allowing this disempowering inner commentary to continue? Is this aligned with my values? What’s something I could tell myself instead that is kinder, more true, or more necessary?”
Take some time to allow your inner voice to offer a comment that is supportive of your wellbeing, success, and happiness instead of detrimental. And if you find it hard to come up with something on the spot, try thinking about if this happened to a loved one, or if this had happened to your 10-year-old self – what would you tell them instead?
Finding your truth through pivoting
This 3-step practice may seem simple but it is beyond powerful. The trick is not to stuff down your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. But to shine a light on them and transform them by pivoting your focus from what was true before to what is true now.
Don’t allow inner fault-finding and judgmental comments to cut you off from expressing the very best version of yourself. Use pivoting to create an opening for awareness and growth to choose a more self-supportive narrative.
If you’re struggling with negative self-talk, want to dive more deeply into self-discovery and empowerment coaching, or simply like some guidance and accountability throughout your journey, my 1:1 coaching offering THRIVE is perfect for you. Book your complimentary Discovery Session here and let’s get started together 🤍
Written by Julia
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