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7 Ways To Quiet Self-Criticism

Self-criticism is your private inner dialogue, which can either be a powerful support or a major obstacle. Your thoughts affect how you feel and how you behave. The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Thinking, “I’ll never get this job,” may cause you to feel discouraged as you walk into an interview. Consequently, you may slump your shoulders, stare at the floor, make a poor first impression and inadvertently sabotage your chances of success.

Negative self-talk literally robs you of your mental strength. If you have a harsh inner critic, you’re not alone: Self-doubt, catastrophic predictions, and harsh words are common. But you don’t have to be a victim of your own verbal abuse.

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How Does Self-Criticism Show Up?

Self-criticism is something we all do from time to time. If we’ve made a serious mistake or error, reflecting critically on it can be a helpful way to avoid similar mistakes in the future. But for some people, self-criticism is more than a strategic tool—it’s a way of life that leads us to live in a near-constant state of self-criticism:

  • They habitually put themselves down for all types of mistakes, no matter how small or inconsequential.
  • One uses self-criticism as a primitive form of motivation. Hoping that if they’re tough enough on themselves, they’ll be motivated to perform.
  • They constantly question and second-guess their own intuitions and decisions, unable to trust themselves.

Sadly, this never-ending stream of self-criticism has profound emotional consequences. The negative inner-critic can manifest illnesses like chronic anxiety, perpetual guilt and even depression.

Below are some different ways in which you can quiet and undo the habit of self-criticism. It’s recommended that you briefly read through all of them, then pick one or two that seem most applicable to your life and give them a try for a week or two. However, please remember, rewiring the inner-critic isn’t like taking a magic pill. The power of change comes from consistently implementing the new, desired behaviour into your life.


1. Pay Attention To Your Thoughts

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You’re so used to hearing your own narration that it’s easy to become oblivious to the messages you’re sending yourself each day. Start paying close attention to your thoughts and you may discover that you call yourself names and sometimes talk yourself out of doing difficult but nessecary things.

It’s estimated that you have around 60,000 thoughts per day. That’s 60,000 chances to either build yourself up or tear yourself down. Learning to recognise your thought patterns is key to understanding how your thinking affects your life.

2. Change The Channel

While problem-solving is helpful, ruminating is destructive. When you keep replaying a mistake you made in your head over and over again or you can’t stop thinking about something bad or embarrassing that happened, you’ll drag yourself down.

The best way to change the channel is by distracting yourself with an activity that’s positive, like exercise, calling a friend of working on a project. You can also chose to reframe your inner-critic. For example, your inner voice may be calling you weak or stupid – you can literally laugh at it and say “The only things that are weak and stupid is judgement. I am smart & strong.” Refuse to sit and listen to your brain beat you up.

3. Ask Yourself What Advice You’d Give To A Friend

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It’s often easier to be more compassionate toward other people than to yourself. For example, while you might call yourself an idiot for making a mistake, it’s unlikely you’d say that to a loved one. When you’re struggling with tough times or doubting your ability to succeed, ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” Then, offer yourself those kind, wise words.

4. Balance Self-Improvement With Self-Acceptance

There’s a difference between telling yourself that you’re not good enough and reminding yourself that there’s room for improvement. Accept your flaws for what they are right now while committing to improvement in the future. Although it sounds a bit counterintuitive, you can do both simultaneously: You might accept that you feel anxious about an upcoming presentation at work while also making a decision to improve your public speaking skills. Accept yourself for who you are right now while investing in becoming an even better version of yourself down the road.

5. Consider How Bad It Would Be If Your Thoughts Were True

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It’s tempting to imagine a small mistake turning into an utter catastrophe, but often the worst-case scenario isn’t as bad as we fear. If you predict you’re going to get rejected for a job, ask yourself how bad would that actually be? Rejection stings but it’s not the end of the world. Reminding yourself that you can handle tough times increases your confidence! It can also decrease much of the dread and worrisome thoughts that can stand in your way.

6. Replace Extreme Negative Thoughts With Realistic Statements

When you recognise that your negative thoughts aren’t completely true, try replacing those statements with something more realistic. If you think, “I’ll never find the perfect partner,” a good replacement statement might be, “If I work hard at loving me first, someday I will organically attract my perfect love.”

You don’t need to develop unrealistically positive statements; overconfidence can be almost as damaging as serious self-doubt. But a balanced, realistic outlook is key to becoming mentally stronger.

7. Examine The Evidence

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Your thoughts aren’t always true. In fact, they’re often exaggeratedly negative. It’s important to examine the evidence before you believe your thoughts.

If you think, “I’m going to embarrass myself in-front of everyone,” pause for a minute. Take out a piece of paper and write down all the evidence that indicates you’re going to fail. Then, list all the evidence that you aren’t going to fail. Looking at the evidence on both sides can help you look at the situation a little more rationally and less emotionally. Reminding yourself that your thoughts aren’t 100 percent true can give you a boost in confidence.

The Pros of Being Self-Critical

Self-Criticism opens your eyes to areas of improvement. In life, you ought to be your biggest fan and instill the confidence in yourself to show the world that you are worthy of the life that you’ve achieved up until now. 

At the same time, however, you need to have the self-awareness to understand that you can feel like a million bucks while still having room for improvement. Learn to be self-critical enough to increase your overall success in the pursuit of your goals.

TED Talk with Tasha Eurich to learn more on how to improve your self-awareness.

The Brain Is A Muscle & You Have To Train It to Perform How You Want It

Your mind can be your best asset or worst enemy. It’s important to train it well. The good news is that mental strength exercises like these will help you silence the toxic self-criticism for good. With practice, you can develop a more productive inner dialogue that will fuel your efforts to reach your goals. Practice makes perfect, so keep at it! They say it takes 500 hours to install a habit, you got this!

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Overthink | Quiet The Mind | CherryDTV June 8, 2022 at 11:18 am



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