7 Ways to Tame Your Inner Critic
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
Have you heard the adage, “Everyone is a critic?" It’s true. And, the biggest critic of all is staring right back at you in the mirror. No one has to criticize you because you can put yourself into a vicious head lock 24/7. Who else can do that? No one and that’s great news because the only thing you can really change is yourself. Keep reading to find out seven ways that you can send that cynical noisemaker packing.
We often have bad thought habits. We can be on autopilot and not even realize we are doing this to ourselves. However, allowing negative self-talk to dominate your mind can lead to low self-esteem, unhealthy habits, depression, and other unhealthy outcomes.
7 Ways to Turn Your Thoughts Around
1. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Be proactive. Change those negative thoughts as soon as they start to surface. Get creative. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, instead of saying, “I will never have time to do all of this. I am probably going to get fired. I can’t believe this….” turn it around and focus on what you DO want. Focus on your past accomplishments. Think back to times that you have succeeded even when you didn’t know how it was going to work out.
2. Box up your negativity – This can be literal or figurative. In the grand scheme of your life, each problem is generally only a very small percentage of your life. Seeing your problem as small minimizes its power over you. Try this. Create a small box or purchase one. Whenever you are plagued by a negative thought about yourself for the way you handled a problem or because you made a mistake, write it down on a piece of paper. Put it away in the small box. See your issue diminishing in size. Those thoughts do not define who you are. Take the piece of paper out with your negative thought the next day and replace it with a positive one.
3. Replace negativity with positive self-talk – When a negative thought is removed something needs to fill its place in your mind. Exchange a negative (“I am worthless because…. ”) for a positive thought (“I am a unique and worthwhile because… “and review your past accomplishments. ). If negative thoughts can get you down, then the positive ones can lift you up.
4. Talk to a trusted friend – Venting with a friend can be extremely helpful. Help your friend really understand the issue. It feels good to have someone to listen and that may be all you need to move forward. It is wonderful if you can find a friend who not only listens with empathy but can also offer another perspective.
5. Get real – Was the situation really as bad as you thought? Is it possible that you are embellishing the story? Take an honest look at your reaction and put things into perspective. Reflect back to the first time you felt this way. When an event hurts you more than usual, it could be a trigger from the past. Take the time to dig a little bit deeper and heal the hurt that came up. Journaling can be a helpful tool to employ.
6. Accept your imperfections – Don’t “agree to disagree” with certain personal attributes but embrace them as old friends. They are a part of you – the good, the bad, the ugly and the peculiar. As Rune Lasuli said, “I am not looking to escape my darkness, I am learning to love myself through.” Love who you are and then move on to making changes in your life.
7. Count the positives – It’s similar to counting your blessings. What do you appreciate about yourself? Keep a running list of your accomplishments. What have you done that you are proud of? Review your list of accomplishments. Put on some uplifting music and before you know it, you won’t feel bad anymore.
Don’t let that voice in your head overshadow your accomplishments and positive qualities. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, figure out how to do better next time and move on.