We’ve all had days when we felt like failures. Maybe the car wouldn’t start because we forgot to buy gas, or we rushed out into the rain forgetting an umbrella, or we were late to an event because we forgot to calendar it. Everyone has those Bad Hair Days. What if we could figure out how to stop berating ourselves for those mistakes? How hard is it to turn off the negative self-talk? Here are five tips to turning off the self-criticism mechanism:
Most of us don’t think much about how we think about ourselves, but we all have an internal dialogue we need to pay attention to, for the sake of our inner peace. Estimates are we each have 60,000 thoughts a day– and we need to pay attention to those thoughts. Are we being kind to ourselves? Shutting down the negative self-talk may simply mean stopping the thoughts. It helps to embrace distractions like books or movies.
Take The Long View
No matter what mistake you have made, it’s important to put it into perspective. Think about everything you’ve accomplished in the past year. Think about the current mistake as simply one happening, not a disaster. Ask yourself: will this matter in a week? In a year? Ever again? Often those answers will help you to dial back the self-criticism.
Put Someone Else In Your Place
Imagine that someone you love has just made the same mistake you made. It could be your spouse, your child, your mom, your best friend. What would you say to the person? Would you berate them, or encourage them to get past it and move on? Taking that perspective makes us less prone to view ourselves harshly.
Step Out Of The Spotlight
We often think that everyone is looking at us and judging us, all the time. However, that stupid error or thoughtless remark likely doesn’t stay on someone else’s radar for very long. The tendency to “spotlight” – think of ourselves as being critically examined, constantly – is a fallacy. Most people pay little to no attention to our mistakes. Try to remember that.
Concentrate On Improvement
It’s actually okay to think “Well, I messed up but that just means I need to improve.” Developing a realistic view of mistakes and then resolving to do better by taking definite steps towards self-improvement helps us accept our own flaws. If you simply cannot stop the self-criticism, try turning it into an action plan, and then follow through.