You’re promoted to a more demanding, high-profile job, and the first thing you think is, “They must have made a mistake.”
That’s your Inner Critic, whose prompts can get you out of bed in the morning, on the treadmill or through a pressing deadline. But its disapproving words can also make you miserable, even as you should be glowing over a job well done.
The trick, then, is in knowing when to let it spur you to great heights and when to tell it to keep quiet. Here’s how to quiet your Inner Critic:
Monitor your thoughts. When your thoughts take a self-critical turn—“Oh, I sounded so stupid in there”—jot them down. That process in itself may slow down the Critic. It may also allow you to spot patterns, so you can stop yourself from negative thinking.
Recognize what is beyond your control. Someone may think, “My boss is irritated with everything I say today. What’s wrong with me?” Another way to think about it would be, “My boss is irritated today. I wonder what’s going on with him.”
Challenge negative thoughts with hard facts. Keep a short list of your achievements on a notecard. Glance at it when your self-criticism becomes vicious.
Know the difference between thoughts that are critical and those that are constructive, suggests Therese J. Borchard, who writes the “Beyond Blue” blog on Beliefnet.com. If you overeat at a picnic, thinking “I’m gonna get fat” is simply critical; thinking “I’ll try to start eating better tomorrow” is constructive.
— Adapted from “Silencing the Voice That Says You’re a Fraud,” Melinda Beck, The Wall Street Journal.
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