We are so critical of ourselves! What? You disagree? Hmm … when was the last time you listened to what you said to yourself when you looked in the mirror, stepped on the scale or made a mistake? Or do you avoided noticing your own self-talk? Whether your take notice or not, your inner voice is talking to you non-stop and what it has to say is usually critical.
The other day a friend shared that she looked at herself and said: “I look like a middle age housewife.” Her husband replied: “You are a middle age housewife.” When my friend shared this, I thought: “What’s wrong with being and looking like a middle age housewife?” My friend is amazing! She is a hardworking business owner, wife and mom. She juggles all of this and has served on a volunteer board of directors for a women’s organization. She continually works on herself mentally, emotionally and physically. She never gives up. She is beautiful and smart! Then I realized she was just sharing publicly what I do to myself in secret. And I bet you do it to.
I get up, look in the mirror and think “Ugh”. I berate myself for still having vertigo and gaining weight during this time. I am barely out of bed and already I feel discouraged. Then I realize, as a Mindset Coach, I should be setting an example. So, I beat myself up for beating myself up. Unless I catch myself and stop the cycle it goes on, and on all day. Do any of you do this? I bet you do it more than you realize.
See if you can identify with any of these statements. “I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. My butts too big. My smile isn’t white enough. My hair is too straight. My hair is too curly. I’m having a bad hair day. I can’t get over what happened to me. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not strong enough. I didn’t get enough done. I can’t do it. I really messed that up. That was stupid. Why did I do that? I don’t know how to …” And on, and on it goes.
Some of the above statements will seem like facts to you. They will feel like they are true. I promise you they are not facts. They are not true. They are only negative self-talk. Since these thoughts are not serving you, how do you stop thinking them? How do you silence your inner critic?
Here are some ways to silence your negative self-talk:
- Allow yourself to notice the negative thoughts running in the back of your mind. Slow down and really hear how you talk to and about yourself.
- Be your own protector. Would you let someone verbally bash your kids, your spouse, your best friend? Of course not! So, stop letting yourself verbally beat yourself up.
- Give yourself a time out. When you catch yourself saying negative things to yourself or about yourself, stop and give yourself a time out. Make yourself write down three true positives about yourself for every negative you said about yourself.
- Don’t wait for others to compliment you. Compliment yourself. Acknowledge yourself for the work you completed today, for the book you read, the house you cleaned, the quality work you did at your job, the care you provided for your family, the way you styled your hair, how great you look in that outfit.
- Celebrate the truth about you. No false affirmations or baloney. Just the truth about what you value about yourself. Did you survive a difficult past? Did you accomplish something? Give yourself credit! I challenge you to start a list of self-appreciation. Start by writing down ten things you really like and appreciate about yourself. Then once a day read the list out loud and add one new thing that you like and appreciate about yourself. There is more to appreciate about yourself than you realize!
- Be a compassionate observer. Remember the first time you saw a baby learning to walk? They struggled, they held on to things, they fell down. The parents didn’t berate the baby for holding on or falling down. No. They cheered when the baby took even one step. Cheer yourself on one step at a time. Also, be a compassionate observer of your mistakes. You are going to make mistakes. The word M.I.S.T.A.K.E.S. is an acronym for Means I Start To Acquire Knowledge Experience Skills. Mistakes are how we learn and grow. So instead of beating yourself up when you make a mistake, ask yourself what you learned and how you can do things differently moving forward.
- Don’t confuse how you feel right now with what you want long term. You won’t always feel like doing whatever it is that you have chosen to do. That’s ok. Simply acknowledge how you feel without beating yourself up and then choose to go for what you want long term. Beating yourself up for not feeling like doing it only puts you in a negative downward spiral. So simply acknowledge the feeling, but don’t let that feeling run your life. You have the power to accomplish what you want to accomplish despite how you might be feeling.
- Live from the place of who you want to be not from who your inner critic says you are. Your inner critic is a liar, don’t let it control you. Ask yourself what you truly desire and take actions that align with that desire. This can seem hard in the beginning. Just remember like the baby you will fall down and you will make mistakes. But just like the baby that goes from falling down to walking and then running, the more you live in alignment with who you want to be the quieter your inner critic will become.
- Ask yourself great questions every day. Don’t ask yourself negative questions like “Why can’t I figure this out? Why am I such a mess? Why can’t I lose the weight? What was I thinking?”. If you ask yourself a negative question your inner critic will give you negative answers. It will tell you what is wrong with you. Instead ask yourself: “How can I do this? How can I figure this out? How can I be happier? How can I lose the weight?” When you ask yourself empowering questions, you will give yourself empowering answers.
- Choose to be around people that love and support you. It is ok to stop being around negative people that don’t support you. Don’t ask “Do they like me?” Don’t try to please others. Instead ask “Do I like me?” Fill your life with people who will applaud your accomplishments and who will love and support you through your struggles.
Don’t settle for anything less then being kind and supportive of yourself and surrounding yourself with people that are kind and supportive of you. In this way you will start to fill your self-talk with all the love and support you deserve. By practicing these steps, you will, over time, silence your inner critic.