Posted by: Anne | October 4, 2014

defeat the dark side: silence your inner critic

Silence Your Inner Critic

A little self-criticism is a good thing: It can be a reality check that spurs you to be a better person. But there is a vast difference between “I need to work out more,” which sparks your motivation, and “I’m a jiggly blob!”

Excessive self-criticism tends to backfire, because it leads us to focus on our so-called failures instead of the “small ways that we could have improved,” says psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety. And over the long term, studies show, self trash-talk is associated with higher stress levels and even depression.

Happily, there are many ways to muzzle that inner critic for good.

~ Stop the thought. While you are in the middle of listening to your negative self-talk, stop your thoughts mid-stream by saying “Stop”. If your surroundings allow you to say this out loud, do so. The physical act of saying “stop” out loud will make you better aware of the frequency in which you are stopping negative thoughts, when it happens, where you are when it happens, and what is happening right before it.

~ Watch for absolutes. A lot of people have a tendency to use phrases like “I always,” “I never,” or “I am” with negative self-talk. These phrases can be terribly harmful to you. They create an instant limitation on you and your capacity for change. Avoid them at all costs.

~ Ask yourself if you’re really so guilty. Let’s say in a meeting you blurt out that your Spanx are too tight. You think, I’ve just made the biggest fool of myself. Challenge your version of the story: Did everyone really recoil in horror, or were most of them actually tapping on their BlackBerrys under the table? “Make the choice to be kind to yourself by questioning your initial thoughts, which is key to slowing down that voice,” says Amy Johnson, PhD, a psychologist and life coach. The more follow-ups you ask yourself, the more you dilute the shameful moment.

~ Put a better spin on things. A simple semantic tweak can actually change your outlook, Chansky says. Instead of telling yourself, “I’m so disorganized, I’ll never get anything done,” train yourself to say, “I’m having a thought that I’m not going to get it done.” It may sound silly, but this little change of wording gives you distance and reminds you that your low self-esteem moment is just that: a moment. “I always tell people that saying, ‘Boy, did I feel stupid,’ rather than ‘I am so stupid’ may seem like a nuance, but there’s a significant difference,” Young adds, because the former describes how you feel, not who you are.

~ Give your rants a name. Johnson likes to call these inner harangues stories. “I love calling some tirade the ‘my friends are better than me’ story, or the ‘I don’t get enough done’ story,” she says. “Instead of feeling like it’s some kind of valid feedback, this highlights how consistent the stories are. We have pretty much the same thoughts today that we had yesterday, which should clue us in to the fact that they’re habits, not necessarily truths.”

~ Try the power of possible thinking. “We feel a lot of pressure to turn it all around and make it positive,” Chansky says. “But research has found that when you’re down and out and force yourself to say positive things to yourself, you end up feeling worse.” That’s because our internal lie detector goes off. She suggests a technique called possible thinking, which involves reaching for neutral thoughts about the situation and naming the facts. “I’m a fat cow” becomes “I’d like to lose 10 pounds. I know how to do it.” The facts give you a lot more choices and directions you can go in.

~ Learn discipline. View your practice of removing and changing your negative self-talk like you would a work out plan. You are not going to see results right away but will feel great once you do. Just like there will be days where you are not motivated to go to the gym, there will also be days where you are not motivated to keep track of your negative self-talk or counter it with positive messages. Doing it however helps us develop our discipline and drive.


Read more at the sources:

9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic
www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20683082,00.html

12 Easy Steps to Create Positive Self-Talk Leading to Your Success
www.timeforlifenow.com/blog/personaldevelopment/12-easy-steps-to-create-positive-self-talk-leading-to-your-success/

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