We all know that we can sometimes be our own worst enemy. Usually, this is because there is some aspect of yourself that you have restricted, or some part of your life that you have not been willing to fully embrace. There are many reasons why we might hold ourselves back including our early experiences, more recent negative experience, and a lack of experience with more positive potentials. We manifest our holds against ourselves with negative thinking, emotional instability, and a lack of imagination.
Negative inner dialog is sometimes referred to as the “inner critic.” You may not have heard this term before, but I would bet you are familiar with that voice inside your head that says negative things, tells you that you are not good enough, or criticizes your actions. Our inner dialogues are shaped by voices from our past, our thinking habits, our chosen environments, and the effects of the stress and strain of life. Thankfully, there are ways to effectively deal with each of these forces that shape our inner world. Here’s how:
Voices from the past:
When familiar voices from the past fill up our mind, we can confuse them with our own thoughts. If we listen closely, we can distinguish that these thoughts are not in our own voice, they are in the voices of those people who impressed their views on us. When we bring awareness to what we are hearing/thinking, and we are able to name the person that is speaking to us in the form of our thoughts, it disempowers the thought. It is not what we think. It is what the person who is speaking it thinks.
Habits of thinking:
Some habits die hard. One habit that is particularly difficult to eliminate is the habit of imagining a negative outcome or assuming the worst. When we engage in this type of thinking, we are both less happy and more closed to alternate outcomes. A reframe, is when you take a situation or a thought and restructure it to be both true and positive. For example, a simple reframe can be removing words like never and always to create more room for a positive experience.
The company that we keep makes a huge difference to our inner dialogue. The companions of today may become the “voices from the past” that fill your head with negative thoughts. The way the people around us talk, talk to us, and act will all have an effect on the way that we think. If you are trying to overcome some negative inner dialogue, you might want to take a look around you and see what the people around you are saying and doing. Make a choice to be happy and surround yourself with people who are happy.
Stress and Strain:
The stressors of life can wear us down over time. As we get run down, we tend to get more negative. Our bad habits come to the surface. They can even take over. It is important to take really good care of ourselves so that we can have the strength to be positive. So, if you start seeing more negativity in your thinking, pause and take stock – are you taking care of yourself in the best possible way?
If you are feeling held back in your life, if you are wanting more in each moment, check in with what is happening between your ears. If there is a lot of negative thinking, or even a little, take some time to apply the suggestions above to shift to a more positive perspective and liberate yourself to be more of your full, true self. And tell those negative inner voices – buhbye!
Tune in to this podcast by Dr. Kate on Transforming your Inner Critic. Listen here.