Conversations you have with yourself can be very powerful. Your thoughts greatly influence how you feel and behave. Most individuals are overly critical. Humans are not born with an inner critic; it is taught to us through interactions with our environment. The inner critic’s goal is to motivate us to always strive for more and improve. However, when left unchecked, the inner critic can dominate our self-image and greatly impact of sense of self-worth and confidence to achieve goals. The key to taming of the inner critic is first having awareness of our thoughts. This involves practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness, simply put, is remaining in the moment. We have a tendency to mentally time travel either forwards or backwards in time which can lead to anxiety and/or depression. We must pay attention to the messages we are sending ourselves. Ask yourself if your thoughts are being exaggerated or are disproportionate.
The next step is stopping negative self-talk and stop ruminating on the negative. We are conditioned from a young age to focus on the negative in order to correct it. Acknowledging positive thoughts and behaviors is a learned skill. Don’t let the inner critic criticize you for not being able to acknowledge the positive!
Here are some easy ways to practice acknowledging positive thoughts and behaviors:
• Be kind to yourself, say kind words to yourself
• Use humor to disarm your inner critic; laughter is powerful
• Talk it out with your inner critic; examine the evidence
• Ask yourself advice
• Replace overly critical thoughts with more accurate statements (such as; I am such a mess turns into I am a work in progress)
• Imagine the worst case scenario; how bad would that really be; remind yourself that you can handle tough times
• Use your inner critic to recognize areas you want to improve and start being a work in progress
• Keep a journal of good/positive things as they come to review
• Keep a journal of gratitude; more focus on gratitude is powerful
• Saying positive affirmations to self
• Work towards progress not perfection
• Use sticky notes or your phone to remind yourself as you integrate it into a habit
If you’re having trouble identifying the positive, you can always start with searching positive affirmations online. There are also several great applications for smartphones which assist people in acknowledging the positive and practicing these behaviors. Acknowledging the positive aspects of ourselves is a journey not a destination.
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