Manage the Internal Critic
Do you talk to yourself? Of course, you do! It is perfectly normal to engage in our internal dialogue. This is our inner space where we do much of our reflection and thinking about how we solve problems or how we might make a decision. Sometimes we have positive thoughts that lead us to make a quick decision. Similarly, they can help us to solve little problems. In some cases, when we have been faced with an issue or problem for a while, it is often when we relax and our mind relaxes, that a solution comes to us. This is when our minds are working well and unhindered. However, I’m sure we are all too aware of times when our thinking and the thoughts that we have are not helpful and are not making decisions and problem solving easy. This is often where fear and doubt creep into the mix. Moreover, we may feel anxious, worried, and stressed. But we all know that these kinds of thoughts and subsequent feelings are unhelpful at best and at worst can be debilitating. So, what can we do? The first step is to be aware! If we are thinking in a negative way, it will normally result in some kind of tension or mild bodily reaction. It is really about recognising and noticing these factors early so you can “take control” of your thoughts and the internal critic! The internal critic can be most useful to help us improve and reflect on things. However, this internal critic can also work against us. In many cases, as you may be aware, this is the inner voice that says, I can’t do that! What will people say if I fail, or I cannot do what they (others) can do!! Somehow, we think it is easy for others to achieve something but not us. Why can other people seem to achieve remarkable things when we cannot!
This is to essentially re-wire your mind! That might sound crazy, but the latest research around neuroscience suggests we can form new neural pathways and change deep habits or even paradigms that are responsible for the thought patterns we adopt.
The benefits of being able to manage your thinking and improve the management of your emotions are incredible. It is not a destination, to never have any doubt, worry, concern, stress, or feelings of being anxious. Or to think that you have a huge challenge or goal that is a little bit of a stretch. However, it is a direction of travel that would serve us all better to improve our ability to manage our thoughts and subsequently our emotions better. In other words, be angry, frustrated, and stressed, less often and for shorter periods of time. Some people are natural at managing their emotions and benefit by being able to regulate their mood, when necessary, understand what they must from any negative emotion, employ strategies to change their thinking to re-direct their mood emotion and develop thinking skills that lead to emotional self-control in almost any circumstances.
If negative thoughts are a dominant factor in your thinking or at least feature quite heavily, this habit becomes the defacto standard. This can have a huge impact on our prospects and career opportunities and life in general. This may limit or even prevent any form of career or life progress. We need to find a way to make our internal critic more accurate in his / her assessment. The first step to doing this is to recognise when you are telling yourself negative things or thinking in a negative way. You can often experience bodily tensions that alert us to what we are thinking. However, they are only thoughts, so step two means we can choose to accept them or we can choose to let them go. If for some reason we cannot let them go, then the third step is to replace such negative thoughts with a more compelling positive thought. For instance, you may be telling yourself you could not learn a particular new skill. The alternative thought would be to think, I have not yet learned this new skill, but could take the first step by learning the first part of it, or by doing some research into finding out who could help or what options might you have.
In summary, the 3-step process is to improve your internal critic:
Step 1 Recognise negative thoughts.
Step 2 Discriminate amongst the thoughts and choose to save the helpful and positive ones or simply let go of the negative ones.
Step 3 If your negative thoughts are persistent, then replace any negative thoughts with positive ones.
The quality of your thinking really is key to the quality of your future!
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