Has there ever been a time when you felt like your own worst enemy? You know, the days when all you can think about are the things you did wrong, and how much better everyone else is doing than you? If so, then you’re not alone. Many people struggle with negative self-talk daily. This type of thinking can be incredibly toxic and lead to decreased self-esteem and even depression. We will discuss the harmful effects of negative self-talk, as well as ways to silence your inner critic.
What Is Negative Self-Talk?
Negative self-talk is when a person negatively thinks about themselves. They may say things like, “I’m stupid,” or “I’ll never be able to do that.” This type of thinking can have some real consequences on how we see ourselves and our abilities.
Your inner critic’s thoughts may sound a lot like that of a harsh parent or buddy from your youth. It can follow the same path as other cognitive errors, such as catastrophizing, assigning blame, and the like.
Essentially, self-discouragement is any inner conversation you have with yourself that may be preventing you from believing in yourself and your potential. It’s an idea that makes you doubt your capacity to make beneficial changes in your life or your confidence in yourself. So negative self-talk, which may not only be unpleasant but also stifle your success, is a concern.
Negative Self-Talk’s Negative Consequences
When you engage in negative self-talk, your thoughts and feelings become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, the more you tell yourself that you’re no good, the more likely it is that you’ll start to believe it and act in accordance with those beliefs. This can lead to several negative consequences, including:
Decreased self-esteem: When you engage in negative self-talk, you’re essentially telling yourself that you’re not good enough. This can lead to a decline in your overall self-esteem and make it difficult to feel good about yourself.
Depression: Negative self-talk can also lead to depression. This is because when you’re constantly putting yourself down, it can be challenging to see the good in yourself or find any reason to be happy.
Inability to achieve goals: When you don’t believe in yourself, it will be difficult for you to achieve your goals. This is because you’ll lack the motivation and confidence necessary to succeed.
Attracting negative experiences: When you have a negative view of yourself, you’ll likely start to attract negative experiences into your life. This is because your inner critic will be telling you that you’re not good enough and that you deserve to be treated poorly.
How to Silence Your Inner Critic
There are many ways to silence your inner critic so that you can stop engaging in negative self-talk. Below, we’ll give you some techniques for doing this.
Recognize when it’s happening: The first step toward silencing your inner critic is recognizing when they are talking. You need to be aware of what you’re saying to yourself and the tone and language that you’re using.
Challenge your thoughts: Once you’ve recognized when your inner critic is talking, it’s time to challenge their thoughts. Ask yourself whether or not these thoughts are true. In many cases, they’re not.
Talkback to your critic: This technique can be especially helpful in challenging and silencing your inner critic. When they start to talk, respond out loud with something like, “I don’t believe you.”
Focus on your good qualities: Another way to silence your inner critic is by focusing on your good qualities. Write down a list of all the things you like about yourself, and read it whenever your inner critic starts to talk.
Surround yourself with positive people: One of the best ways to silence your inner critic is by surrounding yourself with positive people. These individuals will build you up instead of tearing you down, and they can be a great source of support.
Change Negativity to Neutrality: To do this, you can start by remembering a recent health or fitness mistake that your inner critic has judged you for. Then say out loud, “I’m human.” This type of affirmation aims to remind yourself that no one is perfect and making mistakes is normal.
Cross-Examine Your Inner Critic: You can analyze your inner critic’s claims by asking it questions like, “Is this true?” or “How do I know that?” If you wouldn’t say the same thing to a friend in the same situation, telling yourself is probably not helpful.
Think Like a Friend: Think about what you would say to a friend if she had made the same mistake that your inner critic has judged you for. Most likely, you’d be kind and supportive. You can turn this kindness inward by talking to yourself in the same way you’d talk to a good friend.
Be Your Own Cheerleader: If your inner critic is particularly stubborn, try to be your cheerleader. Imagine that you’re at a sporting event, and you’re rooting for yourself. Give yourself words of encouragement and praise, and do your best to stay positive.
Create a Mantra: A mantra can help silence your inner critic. It’s a powerful statement that you repeat to yourself when your inner critic is especially loud. You can create a mantra of your own or use one of the following:
“I’m doing my best.”
“I’m not perfect, and that’s okay.”
“Everyone makes mistakes.”
“I am worthy of love and respect.”
“There is value in my work.”
You can use any of these mantras whenever your inner critic starts to talk. They’ll help you silence them quickly so that you can get back to enjoying life.
Shift Your Perspective: Your inner critic is probably judging you harshly because they view things from a negative perspective. You can try to shift your perspective by imagining that you’re looking at the situation from a friend’s point of view. This will help you be more compassionate and understanding toward yourself.
Talk to a Professional: If your inner critic is causing you a lot of distress, it might be helpful to talk to a professional. A therapist can help you understand your inner critic’s motives and how to best deal with them.
Challenging negative self-talk can be brutal, but it’s worth the effort when you consider its consequences and what’s at stake in your life. If you’re struggling to silence your inner critic or if any of the above techniques aren’t working for you, perhaps it may be beneficial to work with a therapist who can help you get to the root of the problem.