Some years ago, one of my hypnosis clients mentioned in passing that she had an internal voice that was always criticizing her. Apparently, at least according to the voice, she could never do anything right. Understandably, my client sounded annoyed when she described the kinds of things the voice had been saying to her.
Being a helpful sort, I decided to help her out with the voice, even though her reason for the session had nothing to do with changing her negative self talk.
One of the things that my NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) training taught me, is that the location of mental voices frequently makes a difference in how they affect the person. The sentence, “The sun rises in the morning” typically has a different location than the sentence, “Today is June first, 1777,” and the sentence “I wonder who will win the World Series in 2020?” will have yet another location than the first two.
As it turns out, my client’s critical voice seemed to come from the left side of her head. So I asked her how she would respond to the voice if she were to move it to her left big toe, so that it seemed to be speaking to her from there. As I asked, I made a swoosh sound and gestured with my hand as if I were literally moving the voice physically. The gesture and swooshing sound were nonverbal hypnotic suggestions, by the way.
My client replied that when the voice spoke to her from her left big toe, she could care less what it said.
When I saw her a week of so later, she complained that the critical voice was still there in her big toe. Apparently she had expected to eliminate it completely. When I asked what the voice was saying to her, she replied, “Nothing. It’s sulking.”
And yes, it can be just as simple moving the location of an internal critical voice to eliminate the annoyance for good. Frequently however, it is more effective to negotiate with the voice itself. One of the assumptions of NLP is that every behavior, even negative self talk, has a positive intention for the person. For example, most of the time, self criticism is intended to encourage the person to do their best, motivate themselves to get something done on time, or stop an undesirable habit. The type of resolution that a client might come to with an inner critical voice might be for the voice to simply encourage the person in a kindly way to learn from a mistake, feel good about taking the garbage out now, or to get started early on a project instead of waiting until the approaching deadline makes them frantic.
By negotiating with internal voices, it is frequently unnecessary to do formal hypnosis. Simply going through the process of negotiating with ones internal critical voice actually creates a light state of hypnosis all by itself. And, that light state of hypnosis can be enough to allow for positive creative changes.