Let’s imagine that you have a friend who can be really critical. She lets you know when you’ve put on a few extra pounds. She makes you lose confidence right before an important presentation. She points out your flaws and reminds you when you’re not doing as well as others. If you had a friend like that, you’d kick her to the curb, right?! No one needs that negativity in their life! So, if we wouldn’t accept this criticism from our friends, why do we accept it from ourselves?
We let ourselves get away with a surprising amount of negative self-talk. Sometimes it happens so often that it becomes background noise, but this kind of criticism can be seriously damaging to your self-confidence. So what can you do to silence your inner critic? Here are five insightful tips:
1. Listen to your negative thoughts
This may seem counter-intuitive, but you can only silence your inner critic when you’re actually aware of it. I don’t mean feeding into it, but trying to listen as objectively as possible to those negative voices. A lot of times those negative thoughts stem from insecurities that are unmerited. Take the time to actually listen to what you’re telling yourself and you’ll find that oftentimes, those criticisms are silly. Actively listening to your negative talk will reveal that most of your criticisms are undeserved and ridiculous. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, why say it to yourself?
2. Get productive
Although some of our negative thoughts are unwarranted and overly judgmental, some of that criticism is toward real issues that need to be addressed. If there are certain parts of your life that you know need improving, do something about it. Don’t give yourself ammo for negative self-talk. There’s nothing worse than that nagging voice in your head that yet again you’re late on your deadline. And because you know it’s true, it can lead to a downward spiral of continually criticizing yourself.
Being nasty to yourself is never okay and it’s certainly not productive. Instead, take tangible steps to improve. Set goals and track your progress. Even if it’s baby steps, gradually improving yourself will replace negative thoughts with positive ones and ultimately silence your inner critic.
3. Re-think how you see other people
Negative thoughts of any sort are toxic to your soul. If you allow yourself to be critical and judgmental of others (admit it, we’ve all been there!), you’re only setting yourself up with the mentality that it’s okay to be critical of yourself, too. Hold off on gossip and stay away from rash judgments that may seem harmless. Feeding into the negativity will only come around to bite you in the butt.
Related: 15 Ways to Be More Positive
4. Ask yourself this question
Not sure if you’re being too critical of yourself? Life coach Tony Teegarden recommends asking this one question: Would you say this to your five year old self? Would you tell your five-year-old self that they’re not smart enough, that they’re overweight or untalented? Of course not! You’d tell them to believe in themselves and that they can do anything they set their mind to. So, if you wouldn’t dare be so negative to your younger self, why do it now? Self-confidence can be fragile at any age and we need to be sure to that we’re doing everything we can to support ourselves.
5. Remind yourself of how awesome you are
Sometimes the only way to silence your inner critic is to drown it out with positive statements. It doesn’t have to be as hokey as telling yourself positive affirmations in the mirror. But giving yourself a little pep talk when you’re really getting critical can do wonders. I actually keep a little letter tucked in my wallet that lists my strengths. Whenever I start that negative self-talk, I pop out my letter and remind myself what a strong, confident and capable woman I am. It’s not about bragging or trying to inflate your ego, it’s about being honest with yourself about what you do well. Sometimes we all need a little reminder that we’re capable people who can take on whatever life throws at us!