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 we were to tune into your mind for a moment, what would we hear you saying to yourself? Would it be kind, supportive, and gentle, or 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 can be paralyzing, and prevent you from achieving your potential. These tricks really help me feel like myself again when I’ve started into a negative spiral:
1. 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 start to appear.
2. Go to the source.
What’s bringing up these feelings? Am I hanging around some negative people? Has it been a few days since I have done some creative work? Did someone let me down? If I pinpoint the source, I can release it by taking action.
3. Focus on times you’ve successfully overcome your inner critic.
I used to be scared to speak up in corporate meetings. I was afraid I’d look silly. Remember times that you have experienced specious fear in your past; use this to fuel your confidence if you feel too nervous to speak up in a meeting now. Let your past inform your present. I laugh at a lot of the insecurities I had in my twenties. I’ll do the same in my forties when I look back at my fears today. Give yourself a break!
4. Be your own cheerleader.
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 accomplishments, what I am proud of myself for, and what I am grateful for.
5. Remember that everything ends.
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 and catch up on social media. And that’s ok, too.
6. Be an observer.
Observe your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. And a thought can be changed. You can release and replace it.
For more on beating your inner critic, start here: