Everyone experiences episodes of uncertainty and insecurity at different times in our lives. The famous cliché, “You are your own worst critic,” has proven time and again to throw up roadblocks that hinder an individual’s personal and professional success.
An occasional reality check inspires us to excel and reach our goals; however, excessive self-criticism diminishes our sense of worth, while causing stress, anxiety and/or depression. When the demon of self-doubt is allowed free reign over our internal feelings, it weakens our spirit and creates emotional chaos.
Don’t force happy thoughts. The power of positive thinking can only go so far, especially if you’re trying to force cheerful thoughts that your inner self finds unacceptable. Psychologist, Tamar E. Chansky, PhD, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety, recommends the concept of “possible thinking.” This technique includes thinking neutral thoughts and making objective observations that are more realistic. “You don’t need to feel fantastic when you’re having a bad day,” she writes. “You just need to know there are other options and that you’re not stuck or trapped in the picture you’ve painted for yourself.
Minimize the internal damage. Often, in an embarrassing situation our minds reproduce images that are nowhere near as severe as we imagined. Challenge yourself to downplay others supposed perceptions by questioning your initial thoughts. Let’s say you made an inappropriate joke at a social gathering. Did the listener look down in embarrassment or were they checking their smartphone? If you are worried that someone was offended, do some damage control by offering an apology – even if it’s a couple of days later. Then, consider it a lesson learned and move on.
Get to know yourself. Another famous cliché is to “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Guess which one your inner critic is. Definitely not a friend, so grab hold of that bad boy and get to know it inside and out. Once you become familiar with its callous voice, you can recognize the situation or feelings that trigger its presence and kick it to the curb. When we are able to identify our inner critic, we take away its power and ability to make us feel small and vulnerable.
Seek professional help when needed. Understand that getting too wrapped up in the web of deceit the inner critic spins causes your self-esteem to suffer which leaves you feeling insecure and depressed. If there are obstacles that seem insurmountable or you are having issues with facing some of your issues, talk to a counselor or therapist who can help you overcome these concerns and develop a solid plan of action.