Dismantling the nasty critic in your head
Every year there is a day dedicated to being happy. This year it's on 20th March. Yay for International Happiness Day! What a great thing to celebrate- the world, including our workplaces, needs more happiness. But one of the things that tends to get in the way of our happiness, is our mental script. This inner voice is often mean and critical, rather than something which celebrates who we are.
The nasty script
The 'I’m not xyz enough’ script is a common one. Sound familiar? Many of us run an ‘I'm not enough' script of some sort. One of the ways that mindfulness can help, is in helping you develop an awareness of this script, as well as the mental space to be able to choose your response to it.
What does your script sound like?
This script can take the form of self-talk such as "I'm not good/clever/experienced/confident/knowledgeable/old/young/thin (blah blah blah) enough!", "I'll make a fool of myself” or "I always mess up”. These sorts of thoughts can be really damaging in all areas of your life. Our thoughts and beliefs often determine our emotional response, and ultimately our actions. Constantly undermining yourself can give rise to emotions such as anxiety, fear, dread, helplessness or hopelessness, which can then act as a conscious or unconscious mental compass for the direction your life takes. We might withdraw or avoid certain situations, such as meeting new people, asserting ourselves in a healthy way, putting ourselves forward for interesting roles or raising an idea with colleagues.
Dealing with our scripts with awareness
Mindfulness can give you the space to examine these thoughts and to start dismantling them, if they’re not serving you well. This process of examining, questioning and dismantling negative thoughts about ourselves is important if we want to feel good in our skin, and like we have an important contribution to make in the world- which we all do, we just sometimes need help to see it. But it can be hard to feel comfortable in our own skin if we’re constantly playing the ‘I’m not enough' script in our head. So the first step in dismantling negative and limiting self-talk is to consciously and mindfully consider all the stuff you’re good at, all the stuff you’ve succeeded at, and all of things that make you the unique and great person that you are.
An exercise to try
If negative self-talk is an issue for you (and it is for most of us!) maybe give this a go:
Get down on paper all of the great things about you. Think about your successes, your contributions to the world and other people’s lives, how you’ve overcome adversity or challenges, the things you’re proud of, your skills, talents, knowledge and expertise, and what other people admire about you. Get it down in whatever format suits you- a list, a mind map, a picture, a note on your phone- whatever, but keep it close it hand and keep adding to it. Refer to the list often, particularly when your negative self-talk is trying to worm itself into your brain. When you look at the ‘list’ remind yourself that it’s based on evidence, perhaps unlike the negative thoughts you’re trying to replace. It’s a simple but effective technique, if you can use it in conjunction with a mindful pause whenever you notice a negative, limiting voice in your head.
So what do you think?
Can you relate to any of this? I’d love to hear from you, so please post your feedback below.
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