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Good or Bad: The power of internal messages

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

We all talk to ourselves subconsciously. In fact, I’m not embarrassed to say that as a solo entrepreneur, there are times that I talk out loud to myself! I ask myself questions and I respond in kind. And while that is weird and probably off-putting for some… it is a reality.

Our inside voices are constantly talking to themselves: sharing advice, alerting us to danger, reflecting on past experiences. And sometimes those internal voices – I call them “gremlins” [1]– can get really active, pulling up negative stories from our past, working hard to keep us safe.

The problem is that these gremlins are so focused on keeping us safe that they don’t allow room for us to grow, learn, expand, or explore. Anywhere new we want to go or anything new we want to learn requires that we step out of our comfort zone. In this place of uncertainty, the gremlins utilize past stories and memories that raise fear, push us to avoid, or cause us to freeze in our tracks and keep us from trying new things and avoiding another bad experience.

The great news is that while the gremlins like to control the conversation, as humans, our pre-frontal cortex allows us to think logically and sort through what is true, realistic, and relevant to shift our internal conversations. To consciously control the conversation we need to reframe the messages we receive; to double-click and explore their relevancy, timeliness, and influence in this unique situation.

As we double-click [2] on our gremlin messages ask yourself:

  • Is the negative message I’m receiving true in this situation? What is different? What is the same?

  • What did I learn from this bad experience? What will I do differently now? How might that change the outcome?

  • How important is this new activity to me in relation to me achieving my goal of << insert goal of your choice>>? How can I manage the risks associated with this activity to ensure a positive outcome? What is the real risk (or is there any)?

Negative internal messages are well known for stopping us in our tracks; keeping us from forging ahead toward our goals; locking us in the status quo. So the question is, are we okay listening to this ongoing stream of negative messages and experiencing the results of being stopped dead in our tracks?

Or, are we ready to forge ahead, to challenge the gremlins and their negative messages, to craft new conversations that focus on what is possible, what we’ve learned, and where we want to go?

These are your options. Your choice will have a significant impact on whether or not you live your ideal life. Choose wisely.

How will you challenge the negative messages your gremlin is sharing with you? How will you shift your internal conversation to allow for increased growth, learning, and personal and professional achievement? Tell us in the comments below.


This blog post is part of a series highlighting the kinds of conversations that are held in the Align Lab program- a partnership between HIP Strategic Consulting and Ears Forward Coaching. This program is about becoming #wildlysuccessful on our own terms. The Align Lab is about learning to say NO to what we don't want in order to achieve what we DO want. Let us help you listen deeply to yourself, practice speaking your truth, and more consciously align your values with your ideal life.


[1]From Taming Your Gremlin, Rick Carson.

[2]From Conversational Intelligence for Coaches by Judith E. Glaser.

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