How to Stop Negative Self-Talk and Silence Your Inner Critic
Friday, July 1 2016 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
It can be hard to stop negative self-talk from consuming your mind, but it's possible. The more you become aware of your sneaky inner critic and fight back, the easier it will become. Extinguishing negative self-talk is vital in the quest for happiness and building unbreakable self-esteem. It is a concept we are constantly fighting against in a society that perceives self-worth by race, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, attention on social media, and other external factors.
How to Stop Negative Self-Talk
Everyone has negative self-talk but not everyone listens to it. Confident people are aware of when it comes on and have the skills to fight back. They know this thought isn't helpful and don't want it hanging out in their consciousness.
For example, this week I posted a video on Facebook that got very little attention. If I based my confidence and worth on the likes or views this video received, I'd be struggling big time. After a few self-loathing thoughts I realized that my inner critic was up to no good and needed to be stopped.
When I started thinking "Why doesn't anyone like this?" I realized that I needed to flex my self-love muscles and get real. "The video is good and I made it because I wanted to share it with others." I said to myself.
"Facebook's algorithm is wacky I don't even know if my friends saw it. I know other people have struggled with this too." Bingo, when I checked the facts and looked for evidence to convince me that it wasn't true, my inner critic disappeared.
What is important to remember whether you are struggling with feeling worthy on social media, with others, or when looking in the mirror is awareness allows you to break free from the unhealthy thoughts that take over your self-esteem.
I know this is just one example of how sneaky your inner critic can be, but think about situations that make you feel bad about yourself, perhaps unworthy or insecure. Is it on social media, while you are looking in the mirror, at work or school, with a particular person. When you become aware of triggers you catch the negative self-talk faster.
Checkmate Your Inner Critic's Negative Self-Talk
One of the things that I do with clients and myself is ask them to check the facts so they can talk back with confidence. Are you assuming that no one likes you or that you are ____ (insert self-loathing thought here)? What facts support this? Facts aren't judgments, they aren't one experience you've had, they are true statements.
I couldn't be sure that people saw the video and ignored me. My inner critic really wanted me to believe that though. So instead I asked several trustworthy friends if they had seen in on their feed. None of them had. That allowed me to talk back with confidence to my inner critic "It didn't get views because it didn't show up, not because it's a bad video. Next time I'll tell my friends that it's up." With seconds I was back to feeling more confident about myself.
So try to become more aware of your negative self-talk and catch it before it can take you down. The more you practice the easier it will become.
Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.