Do you struggle with harsh self-critical thoughts? When you make a mistake or fail at something, do you say to yourself, “How could you be so stupid?”
Your self-talk is important because your thoughts impact how you feel and how you behave.
You are not alone if you have an unforgiving self-critical voice in your head. Can you imagine saying aloud to another person else some of the things you secretly say to yourself?
But the good new is there are ways to change that voice.
9 Steps to Transforming-Self Critical Thoughts:
1. Pay attention. Begin to notice when you self-criticism happens. Every night, write down the situation that triggered the self-critical thought, what the thought was and what happened after. Be gentle and don’t slide down the black hole of criticizing yourself for being self-critical….
2 Thoughts are not facts: Know deep within your soul that just because you have certain thoughts doesn’t mean that they’re true.
3. Reality check. Pull up the thought “How could you be so stupid” (or something similar you say to yourself). Lay it on the table in the bright light of day. Is it really true? Maybe the goal or task was challenging and hard and you did the best you could.
4. Family belief systems are tricky. Most of us were not given all of the tools we needed to be resilient and to thrive. Sometimes our parents criticized us to help us be better people and those criticisms are no longer helpful.
5. You are not your achievements. Your self worth is not dependent on what you do. It is about being who you are and when others love you it is because of your internal being, not your success or so-called failure.
6. Reduce your expectations. When you’re engaged in challenging tasks and you’re reaching for difficult goals, build in extra time for self-care and rest. Often, simple things like letting go can ease the self-critic.
7. Switch to another channel (as my mentor and friend Jo-ann Ferreira says) as soon as you notice a self-critical thought. Switch to self-kindness.
8. Speak as kindly to yourself as you would to a friend you loved. Why does it seem easier to speak compassionately to another person than to ourselves? Begin to change that. This is the key antidote.
9. Start to speak to yourself with deep love and compassion. When you notice that you’re in the trap of self-criticism, invite compassion for yourself. And for the time and energy it takes to change.
Sometimes we think that without self-criticism we’ll slide into sloth and indolence. But research from Stanford University shows that the opposite is actually true. Self-criticism is more destructive than helpful. The more people criticize themselves, the less likely they are to achieve their goals because they feel threatened instead of supported.
Kristen Neff has created a wonderful self-assessment tool on self-compassion that you can take on her website. She says in her fabulous Ted Talks that self-compassion is the antidote to self-criticism. We can practice self-compassion in three key ways, she says:
– Mindfulness—being in the present moment without judgment;
– Connectedness—feeling that all of us struggle with this;
– Self-kindness—instead of shaming, notice and switch to self-kindness.
Join me on Sunday, June 24 from 1:30-4 pm at Janati Yoga for a workshop on 9 Steps to Transforming the Self-Critic: Building Confidence and Clarity.