‘Negative self-talk can be very damaging if you want to be creative’

‘Negative self-talk can be very damaging if you want to be creative’

Mindset coach James Mallinson is a certified hypnotherapist who spent many years in the media industry before deciding on a career change. He also runs a popular Now Go Create group session designed to help people to silence their inner critic.

Why do people have this annoying inner critic, James?
All of us have internal self-talk – it’s that constant chatter in your head. However, if we are predisposed to being nervous or anxious about anything, then the voice can turn to negative self-talk very rapidly and that can be very damaging.

How common is it?
Ninety-six per cent of us have internal self-talk, apparently. I think it’s something we see in day-to-day life; people feel a bit nervous about going to a party or they say “I don’t know if that person likes me” – or, even worse, “I don’t like myself”. I think we all have a version of this to some degree. It’s what a great psychologist called Michael Yapko called your ‘inner critic.’ At the sessions I run with Now Go Create, we show people how to change this and have an “inner coach” instead.

Is it fair to say that if you want to have success in any creative arena, confidence can really help?
Yes, I think confidence helps in two ways. One is the ability to communicate what’s going on in terms of the creative concept behind your ideas: if you’ve got a great idea then your ability to contribute to a meeting or a pitch or a brainstorm about that may be hampered if the voice in your head is saying, “You’re useless” or, “That idea is hopeless.” But before all this, your ability to incubate great ideas in the first place can be hampered if you lack confidence, too. If your internal talk is a manifestation of your belief system and your belief system is “I’m not very creative” or “I don’t have good ideas”, then it’s going to hold you back. Equally, you may have had some shocking experiences in meetings or brainstorms which may affect your ability. So, we work on neutralising those negative experiences, too.

People might not see an obvious correlation between hypnotherapy and creativity – what’s the link?
My philosophy as a therapist and as a coach is that there are several things that stop people doing something, and they apply whether you’re working on a creative challenge or any other challenge. If you want to be better at something and you’ve come on Now Go Create’s ‘Meet Your Inner Critic And Shut Them Up’ course, then something’s obviously getting to you – something is stopping you being how you want to be. There are events that may have happened in the past: maybe you tried to contribute in a group at school or Uni, or at work and been shot down. Those events shape your thoughts about your ability to do X, Y and Z. The second thing is all about emotion – “I’m scared of contributing,” or “I’m embarrassed” – which would also lead people to avoid contributing. What we work on next is finding a way to get to new outcomes: how do you then change your behaviour so you are no longer limiting yourself?

What are a couple of the most effective things that happen during an ‘Inner Critic’ session?
I think it’s when I see people having real emotional breakthroughs and recognising that if it’s an emotional trigger that’s holding them back, then they can get in control of that emotion quite quickly. It can take less than a few minutes and it can be incredibly empowering for people.

Tell us a bit more.
During the session, I help people to replace negative self talk with a positive voice, and almost immediately after people have done this it’s not uncommon for them to be unable to remember what the negative voice felt/sounded like. That’s quite a sight to see when you’ve got 15 people in a room and they’ve replaced their negative voice with a positive one and they can’t get the negative voice back. People’s jaws literally drop open.

Apart from hypnotherapy/coaching, what other skills do you bring to the workshop?
Having had a 16-year career in the media industry to a pretty high level means that I am able to engage audiences quite well – because it was second nature to me for so long. In media, I would have been presenting four, five, six times a week. If you overlay my hypnotherapy and coaching skills with that, then you end up with an ability to engage an audience but also transform them using a selection of appropriate techniques to help people work through their challenges.

What’s the difference between one-to-one work that you do with clients in your hypnotherapy practise compared to the work you do on a group basis?
The difference is all to do with the depth of what you can do. The model is still the same – we work on events that shaped the way you think, we work on emotions, we work on new outcomes. But the depth that you can go to is restricted because it’s one-to-many as opposed to one-to-one – although the outcomes can be very similar.

One last question: is it true that to be creative we need to be allowed to fail, and in order to be allowed to do that we need to have sufficient self-belief to say, “OK, that didn’t work, but I am not a failure?”
I do think we should be confident in the knowledge that there is not only one way to succeed; we need to be OK with setbacks. I think if you look at the best work cultures on the planet, they make people feel that it is OK to work, plan and be given the security to know that if you don’t succeed first time, it’s OK. I think what we try and do during the ‘Inner Critic’ session is help people find the confidence to work like that.

To book a place on Now Go Create’s Inner Critic course, which takes place on selected dates throughout the year or at your convenience in-house, drop us a line to find out more: lucy@nowgocreate.co.uk

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