Are you always extra hard on yourself? Do you often feel like you are your own worst critic?
If you tend to demand a lot of yourself and constantly feel frustrated or disappointed, then stick around . . . because today, we’re talking about one simple tool that will help you to create more confidence and self-worth in every area of your life that really matters.
Nothing impacts our lives and overall happiness quite as much as our relationships with ourselves. In fact, it’s such an important dynamic that I’m currently writing an entire book on it (it’s going to be called OMOS: On My Own Side, but don’t ask me when it will be released, because I truly have no clue yet).
For many people, the conversation that takes place in their own minds from day to day can only be described as abusive.
Since I’ve started collecting ideas for my book, I’ve taken a lot of time to interview people about this topic and reflect on their experiences, and I’ve got to be honest: I’m seeing a lot of emotional and verbal abuse, full of contempt and ridicule.
In noting this fact, something occurred to me: we don’t even know it’s happening!
Think about it: when was the last time you stopped to consider how you talk to yourself? It’s probably been a while, right?
Take a moment now and consider the most recent exchanges within your mind—were they positive or negative? Did you walk away feeling like you could conquer the world, or did you feel like you’d rather curl up into the fetal position with a pan of brownies?
If you’re leaning toward option B, then here is an exercise you should try: for one week, every time you feel a negative emotion, jot down what is happening inside your head in a journal. Feeling down, anxious, upset? Write it down along with your inner monologue.
Most of us with this issue not only have no idea that we’re doing it, but we’re also constantly desensitizing ourselves to it.
We do it so much that we get used to the abusive treatment, and it no longer shocks us.
What happens in these scenarios is that the abuse becomes the new normal. Instead of questioning the abusive tactics and language—as we would if we saw it between two people on the street—we brush it off or barely even notice it.
When we notice ourselves engaging in an abusive cycle of thought, the only thing we should be thinking is, “This is NOT ok.”
– Why did you say that? You’re so stupid!
o This is not ok.
– Of course she doesn’t want to give you her number—you’re ugly!
o This is not ok.
– You’re never going to amount to anything because you’re worthless!
o This is not ok.
This is the only healthy, acceptable response to abusive behavior.
Any time that inner critic starts to tear into you and make you feel as though you’re not worthy, you need to push that shame and embarrassment aside and pump the brakes. There’s no need to replay the negative scenario in your head over and over again—it’s not going to change anything.
Instead, you need to immediately reverse the narrative by reminding yourself that you’re a good person: “Whoa, let’s chill out here for a second. There’s no need to attack my character—I’m a pretty good guy. Back off!”
In order to effectively reverse the negative cycle of self-criticism, you must create a shock response to it every time it starts back up so that you begin to wake up to the abuse.
Once you’ve reconditioned yourself to at least notice the self-criticism and successfully interrupt it, the next step is to combat it with direct, powerful, confident language: “I’m not going to take that anymore. I’m going to treat myself differently from now on.”
Making the decision to be kinder to yourself is crucial. You cannot reverse the cycle by simply catching it—you have to work to actively turn the wheel the other way.
Then, of course, you must engage in self-compassion on a daily basis to keep that newfound feeling of value churning healthily.
In my upcoming episodes, you will see more and more content concerning self-compassion, including various practices that will help bring it into your life and strengthen your healthy relationship with yourself. If you’d like to get a jumpstart on that work, check out The Center for Social Confidence at SocialConfidenceCenter.com, where you can find endless resources for every issue we face in our journey toward ultimate self-confidence.
In the meantime, however, it’s time to wake up and stop attacking yourself! Over the next few days, when you start to notice yourself slipping into the downward spiral of negative thought, simply stop and put a name to it—self-abuse! Allow yourself the freedom to say, “This is self-hatred, and I don’t deserve it. I’m not going to take it anymore, and from now on, I’m going to treat myself differently.”
You have so much power over your own thoughts, and you deserve to reap the benefits of that power, starting now. What thoughts keep you from accomplishing your goals? How have you begun to change the narrative in your mind? Share your experiences in the comments below so that we can learn from each other and continue to grow together.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.