8 Steps to Taming your Inner Critic - RiseEarth

8 Steps to Taming your Inner Critic

by Dondi Leigh; Unifield Soul Theory

Our inner dialogues are extremely powerful.

As in, the kind of powerful that can be used for good or evil. Your inner dialogue can be a stepping stone to your success or a major roadblock standing in the way of you getting what you deserve. Here, we’ll go through.

Here, we’ll go through 8 steps to making sure your inner dialogue is being used to make you feel your best:

1) Be Aware of Your Thoughts

We get so used to our inner narrative that we often don’t stop to question it, especially when it begins attacking our self-confidence or self-esteem. By becoming aware of that narrative, we can stop and question when it starts turning negative. Our thoughts are often disproportionate, biased and exaggerated, so developing an awareness of them can be key to creating an inner monologue that is productive and helpful.

2) Stop with the ruminating

We’re not talking about cows here; we’re talking about our capacity to replay again and again something we did that was or felt wrong, stupid, boorish, etc.

Telling yourself to stop ruminating usually only makes the power of rumination worse. Experts suggest that the best thing to do instead is to change things up a bit. Go for a walk or a hike or a bike ride and clear your head. Take some time away from your current place, which is encouraging the rumination, and take some time to appreciate nature, the beauty of the world we live in, maybe even the beauty you add to it. Then you can return to your usual place with a refreshed mind and, hopefully, one that isn’t ruminating anymore. If not, you can find some more musings and tips on how to stop ruminating here.

3) Ask yourself what you would say to a friend.

When we’re all caught up in ourselves and we’re busy beating ourselves down, we rarely pause to wonder how we would react if a friend were treated that way by someone or if YOU treated a friend that way. We tend to be hard on ourselves -”You’re so stupid, you never get anything right”- a lot more harshly than we treat our friends -”hey, you made a mistake, it happens. Don’t worry about it.” Think about it: would you ever say anything from your inner dialogue to a friend? If not, it’s time to work on your inner dialogue, and one helpful way is treating yourself as you would your best friend.

4) Write the evidence out

When you’re thinking something like, “I’ll never get that job. It’s too good for me,” try examining the evidence. Writing it down can be helpful, as you can see how incredibly incorrect your inner dialogue is. Divide a piece of paper in half lengthwise and write out the thought at the top. Then list on one side everything that supports that thought, and on the other side everything that supports the counter-argument. This can help you to see things less emotionally and more rationally.

5) Reject overly critical thoughts and replace them with statements that are more accurate

Ever find yourself thinking, “I never do anything right.”? Time to toss that thought into the mental bin and replace it with something that is actually true, like, “sometimes I do things right and sometimes I do things wrong”. Re-cast those super negative, totally unfair and untrue thoughts with thoughts that more accurately reflect you.

6) Think about how bad it would be if your thoughts were actually true

Nervous about an upcoming presentation at work? Play the tape of your thoughts through. Are you thinking, “If I don’t do well on that presentation I’ll lose my job and then my family and my house and I’ll be unemployable and I’ll never get another job again.” Clearly, that’s absurd. But playing the tape through can help you see that absurdity, and replace it with thoughts like, “I’m going to do the best I can and if I screw something up I know I can recover from it”. More well-reasoned, rational thinking can then crowd out the demons and help you to keep your cool.

7) Create a balance between acceptance and self-improvement

A hugely helpful way to deal with your inner critic is to accept what’s happening today and review what you’re going to work on in the future. By doing so, you’re committing to work on what you want to improve. You’re also committing to accepting things the way they are for this day, for this moment.

8) Enlist a friend or two for help and support

One thing I personally find extremely helpful is having friends who call me on it when my inner dialogue goes external. Many of us have had those moments, right? Where you thoughtlessly say, “I’ll never be good enough” or “I’m too ugly” or “I’m fat” or whatever? I have at least two friends who gently remind me that that kind of thinking isn’t helpful. One of them takes my hand and says things like “You’re already good enough” and the other says things gently such as “please don’t talk about my friend that way.” It’s really helpful for me personally, to have these women who I look up to greatly, help keep my inner dialogue in check, especially when it goes rogue and becomes external, too.

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