If you’re like most people, you criticize yourself sometimes. While many of us tend to be our own worst critics, the truth is your thoughts have a major impact on how you feel and behave. For example, if you’re at a job interview and your inner critic is repeating, “You won’t get the job; you’re not smart enough,” these negative thoughts can easily distract you from preforming as well as you can. When you allow your inner critic to ramble on and on, you may become fearful of failure and your self-esteem may suffer.
Even though reversing these negative thought patterns can be challenging, learning to censor your inner critic and face your fears can help you develop enhanced clarity and positivity. Use the following five steps to practice positive psychology, become familiar with your inner critic, and learn how to combat the negativity it spouts.
1. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts
In many cases, people become accustomed to listening to their inner critics without even recognizing it, so the first step of combatting your inner critic is to become self-aware of its presence. Instead of perceiving the negative commentary as background noise, try to realize when the insults filter in throughout your day.
2. Separate Yourself
After you’ve identified your inner critic’s voice, look carefully at what it is telling you and try to acknowledge that this thought pattern is not in line with your actual perspective. Remember, thinking something does not automatically make it true. This may seem unnatural, but the fact is our thoughts can be drastically irrational, biased, and embellished. Thinking of this voice as a separate entity will make it easier to understand that it is not an authentic perception of reality.
3. Reduce Rumination
It is difficult to steer your mind in another direction when you’ve had a bad day or an unpleasant experience. While it is tempting to sit and ruminate over a negative experience, reminding yourself of a bad moment will make you feel worse. Whenever you find yourself reliving a bad experience through rumination, don’t tell yourself to simply stop thinking about it. Rather, deal with rumination by engaging with a distraction rather than with the negative thoughts. Try calling a friend, baking a cake, or going for a walk to clear your head.
4. Write Your Inner Critic’s Words Down in the Second Person
When you hear a negative comment, start by writing them down as you hear them in the first person: “I’m stupid,” “nobody likes me.” Then, write the identical thought in the second person: “you’re stupid,” “nobody likes you.” You can begin to dissociate yourself from this point of view by noticing how bully-like and hostile it sounds in the second person.
5. Engage Your Inner Critic
Rather than listening to your inner critic’s words, it is important to combat the negativity by writing down a compassionate and truthful response to each false sentence. Use the first person and craft responses focusing on the great qualities you have: “I am a valuable person” and “I am a capable person.” After you finish this activity, pledge to continue combatting your inner critic with positive affirmations. If you make a consistent effort to speak to yourself with the same acceptance and compassion you speak to friends and loved ones, you will successfully censor the false notions of your inner critic in no time.