Ahhh….a new year is once again upon us!
Can you feel it? All those new goals and dreams just waiting for you…
Sounds great right?
Well, not so fast…you see there’s the little thing called reality which loves to sabotage your happiness and comes in the form of your inner critic.
If your immediate reaction is no way, not me…think again. We all suffer from some type of self-doubt and nasty inner-critic – it’s one our biggest flaws as humans and quite possibly your biggest challenge in the new year as you set your sights on new commitments and resolutions.
Let’s be clear, the question is never “if” you have these types of conversations but rather:
- “How often” you’re having them and
- “What” if anything you’re doing about it
Most people associate having conversations with other individuals but rarely do we think about the internal conversations we have. You know, the conversations that we all so desperately try to silence so as to not be distracted from our day to day existence.
That tiny little voice that lives in our head that’s always begging for attention and starving to have a conversation with us.
Don’t believe me?
It’s the same voice you are hearing now, saying: Why are you listening to Joshua and what does he know?
So why do we have these conversations if they are so self-defeating, and why does it “appear” that others handle it better?
Why we talk to ourselves:
- Our self-talk is a combination of your conscious thoughts with your unconscious beliefs and biases. It’s an effective (but not always efficient) way for your brain to interpret and process your daily experiences. Remember the flaws I said you had? We are prone to negative self-talk, making uncanny assertions such as “I can’t do anything right!” or “I’m a complete failure!” This negative dialogue can be unwarranted or even detrimental, but we do it anyway.
- Here’s a short and poignant article that breaks down the science behind why this happens, what it means for our brains and the impact it can have on our overall health and wellness.
Things you probably didn’t know about your inner-critic:
- It’s almost constant and so habituated that most of the time you’re unaware of it.
- Your subconscious mind is listening to everything you say to yourself, all of it.
- It happens on auto-pilot.
- Your body reacts to this inner dialogue by producing emotions and feelings that you aren’t even aware of.
- The majority of most people’s inner-critic is negative rather than positive.
- It happens so quickly, that just one experience or thought can lead to a flood of related thoughts.
- The subconscious mind accepts all of our self-talk as the truth, even if it is not, and then goes about creating the circumstances to match.
- Positive thoughts attract positive thoughts, while negative ones beget negative thoughts.
The Four Major types of self-talk -according to the Mayo Clinic :
- Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones.
- Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself.
- Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst.
- Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad.
What you can do about it
Handling our inner-critic isn’t a simple process by any stretch of the matter but it’s completely doable. The good news is that you can learn to challenge that negative self-talk, and the first step is becoming more aware of it.
The second is to practice and apply some of the tactics below:
- Become aware of its presence is the first step in silencing it. It will allow you to separate that “voice” from your own and recognize the difference.
- Recognizing the voice of your inner critic is critical. Identify what your inner critic is saying. It will be easiest to spot when you are thinking about doing something that is new or risky.
- Don’t give your inner critic the attention it wants. Silence the chatter but simply not repeating out loud what it’s saying to you. That means not sharing it with someone else.
- Boost your confidence with positive self-talk. Your negative inner critic feeds off of your insecurities, so anything you can do to boost your confidence will take away its power.
- Silence the inner-critic. It’s been said that some people find it helpful to give their inner critic a name, dissociating its identity from their own. This process can stop you from thinking of the inner critic as a part of you that should be taken seriously and when it appears, simply silence that other voice.
Final thoughts: Your inner critic/voice isn’t going away but it can be silenced in service of your new year, new goals and new hopes to fulfill on them. Don’t let the first sign of your inner critic take you out of life. Instead, tell the negative committee meeting in your head to sit down and shut up.
The floor is yours: How do you silence your inner critic?
Joshua / www.JoshHMiller.com