Of all the struggles I’ve encountered while working with others as a life coach and while dealing with my own roadblocks, the inner critic is the most powerful and the most ubiquitous. If I were to tune into your mind for a moment, what would I hear you saying to yourself? Would it be kind, supportive, and gentle, or quite the opposite?
A few of the negative thoughts I struggle with are, “This person or that person is much further ahead than I am. Who wants to hear what I have to say? I can never get enough done!”
Working for myself makes me feel like I am constantly behind — there’s an endless amount of work to do — a lot of it proactive — and I often have pangs of guilt when I do fun things, like have brunch or go shopping, or even watch a little reality TV.
Critical thoughts are paralysing, and prevent you from achieving your potential. Above all else, success and feeling good is a mental game.
These 5 tricks help me feel like myself again when I’m launching into a negative thought spiral:
- Identify the thought and say it out loud.
Have you ever had the experience of saying something aloud and realizing how ridiculous it sounds? The negativity immediately seems dramatic and perspective settles in. When we confront the issue, solutions also start to appear.
- Get to the source.
What’s bringing up these feelings? Am you hanging around some negative people? Has it been a few days since you’ve had some fun? Did someone let you down? If you pinpoint the source, you can help release it by taking action.
- Let your past inform your present.
For example, I used to be scared to speak up in corporate meetings. I was afraid I’d look silly or ask the wrong question. I now let my past fears inform my current fears. Remember a time that you’ve experienced unnecessary fear in your past and use this as fuel to eradicate your fear now whether it’s speaking up at work, striking up a conversation with a stranger or asking a friend for help. In retrospect I roll my eyes at the hard time I gave myself in my twenties. I know I’ll do the same in my forties when I look back at my fears today. Give yourself a break!
- Decide to cheerlead.
You can be your own best friend or your harshest critic — and no one can control this apart from you. When my thoughts and feelings are destructive, I focus on my past accomplishments, what I am proud of myself for, and what I am grateful for. Keep a list of things you are proud of at your disposal (even on your phone counts!) and allow it to give you a boost whenever you need it.
- Remember, “this too will pass”.
No mood, good or bad, lasts forever. On days I can’t shake a bad mood I almost always wake up feeling good the next day. With a new day comes a new perspective. And if I feel low, I might indulge in a little junk food, watch too much Bravo and bore myself to death on social media. And that’s ok, too!
Learn to not take your thoughts too seriously. You can observe them instead. Remember – you are not your thoughts. And a negative thought is just that – a thought. And a thought can be changed. You can release and replace it.
Your tips and advice make my day! What is one tip that works for you when you need to silence your inner critic?