“I’m a loser”<
“I’ll always be an addict”<
“I fail at everything I try”<
“Why do I even bother?”<
Have you ever heard those words come out of your mouth? Have they ever plagued your thoughts? If so, you’re a victim of your inner critic. This toxic voice knows just what to say to undermine our efforts. Left unchecked, it locks us away far from our potential. It will take willingness and imagination, but you can outlaw negative self talk with these nine techniques.
1. Visualize an Inner Critic Exile
Your inner critic may be powerful, but you don’t have to obey its misguided sway. As soon as you recognize it crawling into your mind, block it. Picture it flying, marching, or swimming away from your mind into permanent exile. Better yet, imagine walloping it with a swift punch over a mountain. As you practice this visualization technique, it can enhance all aspects of your life.
2. Value Yourself
We all mess up. However, like the eccentricities of our favorite TV characters, we also all have quirks that are part of our personalities. Your clumsiness, inability to remember names, or tendency to speak before you think make you unique. When your inner critic nags at your shortcomings, insist that your multi-faceted personality makes you sparkle. Everyone you admire and cherish is flawed, so why not be more compassionate with yourself?
3. Pretend You’re Your Best Friend
Do you shame and degrade your best friend when you offer them constructive advice? I doubt it. Be nice and talk to yourself with the same language and tone you use when talking to your best friend. It may feel unnatural at first, but with sincere practice, you can carry on respectful conversations with the one person who has always been there – you.
4. Counter With the Positive
When you need to confront someone, the sandwiching approach cushions criticism between positive feedback. I suggest you use this technique to counter your inner critic. You can reduce the impact of negative self talk by closely following it with positive reinforcement. It helps to have a list of traits you love about yourself to recite as a way of booing your inner critic off the stage!
5. Materialize It
Refuse to let your inner critic grow to unrealistic proportions. Aim to keep everything in perspective; one mishap does not determine your entire worth. Each day is a fresh start. Keeping a journal is an excellent way to give your negative thoughts a physical (therefore beatable) form. If it’s there on paper, it becomes an object you can move beyond. This gives you the power to turn “I am a complete idiot for driving past the liquor store” into “I made a poor judgment call when I felt stressed after work today, but that doesn’t mean I’m hopeless.”
6. Embrace Imperfection
Even if you’re not a perfectionist, you may struggle to accept your imperfections. Every person, from award-winning athletes to powerful politicians, has something they’d like to fix about themselves. All recovering addicts are on the mend. If we embrace growth rather than bow to our inner critic, we can lead fluid, fulfilling lives with no boundaries.
7. Think About the Possibilities
Even criticism has the bright side of possibility if we choose to see it. Rather than say, “I am a failure because I stayed up too late,” you can say, “I can choose an earlier bedtime for the rest of the week.” Turn that disappointment into wisdom. So stand up, brush yourself off, and turn to the horizon of a new chance.
8. Name Your Inner Critic
Take away the inner critic’s power by giving it a name, the more silly the better! Humor can take the edge off of its harsh accusations. A name also assists you in splitting your identity from the inner critic and realizing their lies; we tend to question the beliefs of others before our own.
9. Tell Someone About the Negative Self Talk
You may feel pressured to hide your self-doubts in an effort to seem “under control”. Rather than let shame and negativity fester in the dark, I urge you to shine light on it. Your honesty may inspire others to also let it all out. Your therapist, recovery group, support network, loved ones and journal are all possible places to safely release those pent-up emotions and invite healing in.
Negative self talk can be difficult to overcome on your own, which is why Morningside Recovery is here to help. Morningside Recovery offers specific dual diagnosis programs to help people overcome negative thoughts and specific issues with substance abuse and stress. If you’d like to learn more, call us today at 855-416-8202.