How to Silence Your Irrationally Harsh Inner Critic
Your harshest critic is often yourself. You might not even realize it, especially as you go around administering fair attention and wise advice to others. Yet anyone listening in on your internal monologue, particularly in times of nerves,
anxiety, or fear you might hear a verbal rabbit hole
of unreasonable negativity and self-berating.
The evil "I" in self-talk
Notes that Dr. Ethan Kross, a credible research psychologist, emphasizes the consequences of negative mental talk. The negativity crushes people, but Kross also points out that we can also have positive mental talk to combat the negative.
The way you silently speak to yourself in your head seriously affects the outcomes of your projects and success. Your self-talk also influences your happiness and self-concept.
The 3 step path out of the negative mind
Avoid speaking in the first person
Most people speak to themselves in the first person: “I hate it when I …” or “I understand that she is correct, I am a …” The first person pronouns are part of the negativity problem because you are labeling yourself in a personal way. In fact, Choi claims that changing your pronouns helps reinforce positive thoughts too.
Instead, of first person pronouns, use second and third person pronouns. “Why are you so lazy?” not “Why am I so lazy?” This is a focused shift in pronoun power, and puts you in a position to rescue control of your thinking. All you have to do is reinforce your language, training your brain.
So, keep practicing this technique because when you transcend “me,” “I,” and “myself,” you get out of your own head and gain mental distance from your negative thoughts. You separate yourself from personal labels and descriptions.
Kross found evidence of the power in avoiding the use of "I" when he researched public speaking. He paid attention closely to how people introduced themselves prior to speaking.
He discovered that those who used “I” to introduce themselves were less calm, controlled, and powerful than those who used second or third person. Instead of “I work in education,” I would begin “Darin L. Hammond works in education.” Sound awkward?
Kross and Choi claim the results are noticeable.
Create exercises that help you in self-distancing
The technique you are acquiring is called self-distancing, and in the beginning it's difficult to see the progress which comes in small bits. The habitual change in your self-language requires much thought and practice.
In other words, it won't be as easy as it sounds. But you will find your wiser self as the new language embeds itself in your mental talk. Getting outside your normal mind, using distancing practices, will empower you to be your wiser, more secure self. You will see yourself more objectively and less critically.
The practice you create is essential and must be reinforced.
For example, are you going to ask for a big raise? Practice the whole interview in the mirror. Be careful to control your mental talk, avoiding personal pronouns and negative words. Distance yourself from the past and future, focusing on the situation and what you are thinking in the present.
Your mind becomes a wise companion and supporter as you distance yourself, becoming your champion rather than your opponent. Practice an interview with a colleague live or in front of the mirror.
Imagine the powerful mental resource of positive, non-first person self-talk as you are being interviewed. Choose “you are going to succeed in this interview” over “I am going to succeed in this interview.” You can do this!
Avoid the rut of thinking negatively in the present moment. Don’t say, “You are feeling anxiety,” but “You can do this. You are under control. You are calm."
Kross’s studies also revealed that referring to yourself in the third person is even more powerful. Rather than “You have this under control,” use your name “Darin, you are under control. You can do this Darin!"
Review daily how you are progressing
This important "reflective" step in the process ensures that you will continue to learn and progress. A new you will be emerging.
I must say that I am not fond of CBT. I've attempted the practices for depression and chronic anxiety.
I can't seem to trick my brain to think new thoughts when I know in the back of my mind that my old thoughts are true. I continue to wrestle with these issues.
I am also not convinced with the anecdotal evidence of Kross and Choi.
But, this plan seems small enough that I think I will give it a try. I'll keep you posted.
I also like the fact that the origin of the problem and solution both seem simple and plausible. Give it a try with me? Let me know in the comments.
Interested? Click the author above to read full original.
Source is 99u.
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