“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This little rhyme was one that I used many times as a child when someone made fun of me, made fun of me, or called me names. I was trying to stay safe from someone else’s words, but the truth is that his words hurt me. I could pretend otherwise, but inside it hurt that someone said something meant to intentionally hurt me.
However, to this day, the words of others are nothing compared to the meanness and pain of some of the words that I have said to myself. I don’t always say these words out loud, but the inside of my head is not a safe neighborhood to hang out, especially at night. If I had a doll that represented myself and every time I had a negative or self-critical thought I hit that doll, I doubt I could get through the day. This seems to be common among the people I have spoken to. I have worked with dozens of clients who refer to themselves as their worst critic, but never as their best friend.
Many psychologists discuss the concept of the inner critic. It is known by many different names, but most agree that it may be directly related to the way our parents spoke to us when we were growing up. Throughout our childhood experiences of interacting with our primary caregivers, we imitate the nurturing we receive within our own heads, continuing the practice of praising, disciplining, etc. One of the ways it appears is as that critical inner voice. It is also possible to have a caring and supportive voice, but this softer and more gentle voice for most people is drowned out by the stronger and more critical voice.
In addition to self-criticism, I notice that there are times when it seems that everything that goes through my head is negative. No one around me is doing anything right, things are going wrong, and the world is a dark and scary place. When my internal self-talk goes down the spiral of fear, my mind can really go to town with what is happening with the economy and how it has affected me personally. The ‘what if’ takes over completely and my inner neighborhood turns into a dark storm of disastrous possibilities manifesting as loss, scarcity and catastrophe.
The good news is that we can actually change our internal dialogue and we can change what comes out of our mouth. Catching the inner critic before he begins to hit us and shifting our words in a nurturing and supportive direction, as a coach would, can lead to more positive results in our lives. Being aware, deliberate, and purposeful about what we say and think requires raising awareness, making a decision, and acting differently.
Awareness begins with becoming an observer of yourself, noticing what you are saying to yourself, how you are interpreting situations and what is really coming out of your mouth, especially in those moments when there is no one to witness it. I have found the practice of journaling very helpful in this. There are times when I don’t feel comfortable telling someone else what I am. Really thinking, but would write it in a journal that he knew was safe from the eyes of others. Once my thoughts and words are on the page, I can often see how distorted my thinking is.
Once I have recognized a negative or discouraging pattern, I can make a different decision. But what choice do I make? After all, my best thought brought me here. Initially, it can be very helpful to receive information from an objective friend or advisor, as we cannot always be objective with ourselves. For example, I told a friend of mine that not many people have signed up for classes lately. She reminded me that I could see this as a personal thing to do with myself or I could more accurately conclude that people are setting aside funds because of the economy. I realized that he was right. If I take it personally, it feels negative and discouraging and discouraging, but with the last performance I can see it as an opportunity to do work that I haven’t had time to do because I’ve been teaching so much. .
Acting differently, of course, means that not only do we raise our awareness and do nothing with it, it means that we go ahead and declare our new interpretations out loud. It is a way of establishing a new pattern.
The most powerful way I have found to make these ideas work for me is by being proactive vs. reagent. If I wait for the moments when my thoughts are negative and self-critical, it is much more difficult to head in a positive direction, but by deliberately choosing to be kind and support myself as a matter of course, I can create a positive foundation. to build.
To do this, I have developed a daily practice of saying positive, uplifting, and empowering statements to myself as soon as I wake up in the morning (usually the most negative time of the day for many people). Statements like these are commonly called “Affirmations” because they are validating a positive truth that we wish to emphasize and expand on. The most rewarding result for me is a reduction in fear and depression, despite the constant influx of negative information so prevalent in the news lately and by doing this on a daily basis, I have started a new, more positive thinking pattern that leads to increase self-esteem and obtain more positive results.