We all have it. That little inner voice that creeps up in the most inopportune times. The one that tells us not to ask for the promotion, that we aren’t good enough, that we shouldn’t accept that date….the list can go on and on. Sometimes it speaks to us loudly and sometimes it is simply a quiet nag throughout our day. It can last for a minute, an hour or a week. Maybe even longer. At times, we didn’t even want to get out of bed, what’s the point?
Then, one day we learned we can talk back. We can tell that voice that we ARE good enough to go after what we want. Here are a few tips I've learned that seem to help:
- Start a journal: write down what you were doing each time you began to hear that voice and look for patterns. Learn to recognize that critic for what it is. Next to that list, write down something you did that day that you felt proud once you accomplished it. Look through those proud moments when your inner critic begins to creep in.
- Look in the mirror: look at your reflection and tell yourself ONE good thing about what you see. If you can, keep going! Don’t stop at one. If you can only muster one positive attribute, be happy you recognized the good.
- Place a post-it on your mirror: It can be anything positive, the one on mine says “I am Grateful.” Make sure it’s a mirror you will look into each day, perhaps while you’re brushing your teeth.
- Add a positive to a photo: find a photo of yourself looking happy, a photo you have always liked an use an app that can place a positive self-image over the photo.
- Make a list of your closest friends: for each person, write a couple of sentences about each person on why you are friends, why you like them so much. It is said that we are a product of our five closest friends, so the positive attributes you see in them are most likely also seen in YOU.
- Think about 10 years from now: when something seems hard or I’m feeling down about something small I may have done wrong, I like to remind myself, “Will this REALLY matter 10 years from now?” Remember a test you failed miserably in high school, and thought it would ruin your life, having done so poorly on it? No? Of course you don’t.
- Reframe negative thoughts: put a positive ending on each one. You made a mistake yes, but what did you learn from it?
- Phone a friend: the best way to stop obsessing over your own shortcomings is to get outside yourself. Call a friend and inquire about their day, get THEM talking and truly listen.
- Cut yourself some slack: are you trying to do much? Are you rushing through things because the to-do list seems overwhelming? Move some of the day’s tasks to three days from now. The earth won’t stop turning.
- Put it in perspective: ok, you made a mistake. While your screw up may feel like the end of the world to you, think of how many people truly don’t care? How many don’t even know about it and never will? We are just a small part of a much larger world – teach that inner critic some perspective.
You CAN break this cycle. And you CAN start right now. Let me know in the comments some of the tips that have helped YOU when the inner critic gets too loud.
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