by Deborah Hartung, founder of Pivot PeopleTech
You will never speak to anyone as often as you speak to yourself – that silent little voice in your head that is hyper-critical of everything and keeps on telling you that you are somehow ‘not enough’. We call it negative self-talk and it is really bad for you because it breaks you down and keeps you from being the best version of YOU. Here are 5 tips to help you silence your inner critic and boost your self-esteem.
I was somewhat distractedly scrolling through my social media feeds when I happened upon this quote from Brian Tracy and it literally hit me straight in the gut. I actually had to read it a second time just to make sure that I hadn’t misread these amazingly impactful words.
This got me thinking about how hard we all are on ourselves, all the time. We have that horrible little voice inside our heads and that voice criticizes us and breaks us down and says some pretty awful things to us on a regular basis. In coaching circles, this is referred to as ‘negative self-talk’ and it is one of the worst habits that you absolutely have to break free from, if you want to work towards becoming the best version of YOU and living the best life possible.
Before giving you some helpful tips on beating your own inner-critic, I would like you to take a moment and think about your self esteem and the reputation you have created for yourself in your mind.
Find the positives and speak to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love.
Is it a true reflection of who you really are? If you didn’t know YOU, would you want others saying those things about you?
I’m going to venture a guess here – because those things are mean and nasty and just plain not true!
So why do you say them to yourself and break yourself down? Don’t you also deserve the love and empathy and respect that you show to others?
Of course you do! And your journey starts today, with these 5 tips:
1. Name your Inner Critic
I know this may sound a little crazy at first. Humour me. It’s an extremely effective tool and has been proven to work. Effectively, your inner critic is an enemy of your sanity and stands in the way of you truly loving yourself and accepting who you are. So, you need to recognise that enemy and give her a name – go ahead and name her after the meanest girl you knew growing up. Understand that she is not YOU and she has her own dark agenda – which is to keep you playing small and not living up to your full potential – so name her and call her out on her BS every time she rears her mean, nasty little head in your mind.
2. Would you tolerate a friend saying these things about you?
This technique has worked extremely well for me and many women I know. It’s very simple to practice as well and it helps you to coach not only yourself, but to help your friends when they are being too hard on themselves. You simply have step out of the situation for a moment and consider if a friend or person you loved were to say those things about you or speak to you in the same disrespectful and unloving tone, what would you do? Would you call her out on it? Would you possibly even go so far as to cut her out of your life because you realise that she is bad for you? There you go – if you wouldn’t tolerate that harsh and disrespectful tone or those mean and hurtful things from a friend or someone you love, why would you tolerate them from yourself?
3. Get Realistic Perspective
It is human nature for us to build things up in our minds and make mountains of molehills. But, let’s be honest here – how often have we been right about how truly awful something was? The trick here, is to gain some perspective and see things for what they really are. Perhaps you said something in a meeting that you really shouldn’t have. That doesn’t make you the worst communicator in the world and it doesn’t automatically mean you are going to lose your job or lose out on a major deal. Part of learning and growing and improving as people, is the ability to self-assess in a loving and supportive way. We make this impossible for ourselves if we are always seeing the absolute worst- case scenario and we are lambasting ourselves emotionally over something that won’t matter in the morning.
4. Find the Positives
This is by far the hardest one to practice. Probably because we were all raised to aspire to these ridiculous ideals as women, either physical ideals of beauty or ideals as career women, partners or mothers. These are totally unrealistic expectations that we set for ourselves and then we are hyper-critical when we aren’t able to live up to some standard that was actually set by a magazine or a movie or perhaps even our own mother. So please stop right now and do a self-assessment. Find at least 3 good and positive things about you – either your appearance or who you are as a person or your achievements in life so far. Find those positive things about you and focus on those.
5. Practice Gratitude and Mindfulness
Oprah has always been a proponent of keeping a ‘gratitude journal’ and although we may not have time in our busy lives to physically write down the things that we are grateful for every day, at the very least, we should practice gratitude every night before we go to sleep. No matter how tough the day has been, find one thing you are grateful for – even if it’s the fact that you have a bed to sleep in. The more you focus on all the things that you have to be grateful for, the more things you will find.
You will start feeling more joy and when you experience joy and gratitude, it is almost impossible to speak harshly to yourself and allow your inner critic to break you down. And when she does start to whisper, be mindful of her presence. Call her out on her BS and use the other tips here to gain some perspective, find the positives and speak to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love.
Your self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself. Make sure it’s a good one!
Deborah Hartung is a consultant, coach, author and speaker, and the founder of Pivot PeopleTech. She loves helping entrepreneurs find their unique voice and leadership style in order to empower them to create amazing places where people truly want to work. She has spent the majority of her career in HR and labour relations management and consulting, gaining experience in all fields related to the human experience in the workplace. While her main focus remains on consulting, coaching and training in the HR and labour relations space, Deborah is passionate about people and technology and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age. Professionally, Deborah is known as an HR turnaround specialist with a proven track record in improving workplace culture, employee engagement and organisational effectiveness.
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