Does your inner critic prevent you from being your best self? Read on to help quiet that negative voice, and get curious about what it’s really telling you.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation will help you become more aware of your thoughts. However, if this is something new to you, try this exercise to help you become aware of the types of thoughts that pass through your mind on any given day. You’ll need 10 paperclips or other small and light objects to place in one of your pockets.
Each time you’re aware of a negative thought passing through your mind, transfer a paperclip to your opposite pocket. How long did it take you to transfer all 10 of the paperclips?
Now, try the same exercise but instead of transferring for negative thoughts, move the paperclip for positives. How long did it take you to transfer all 10 paperclips this time?
Did you notice that you transferred the paperclips more quickly for negative thoughts or positive? It’s been said that 50,000- 70,000 thoughts go through a person’s mind on an average day. While this is highly debatable and difficult to quantify, it’s believed that our default thinking is negative. It’s evolutionary from our time as early humans and used to be very necessary for survival. However, just because our default may be towards negativity and worry, it doesn’t need to stay that way. The more you become aware of your self-talk and the negative thoughts that pop through your mind, the more opportunity you have to spin them into a new perspective.
What if instead of believing your thoughts when you think, “I can’t do this,” or “That was so dumb of me,” you got curious about yourself? Instead of making negative comments which can then lead to negative beliefs, thus leading to negative behaviors/actions, and ultimately to a negative self-fulfilling behavior, what if you get curious about the negative thoughts popping into your mind? When you notice yourself thinking “I can’t do this,” ask yourself, “What about this is challenging for me?” Or even better, “What can I do differently to make this easier or more accessible to me?” Changing your thinking from a victim mentality to one of curiosity can be empowering. You’re shifting your perspective and mindset to one of solutions, potential, and possibility. By questioning the voice, you’re not ignoring it but using it to help guide you to solutions. Try it the next time you notice it stopping you from doing something or feeling bad about a challenging situation. Instead, recognize it as the learning experience that it is, and take advantage of it to change your thinking and actions in the future.