How To Manage Critical Thoughts And Learn How To Accept Yourself
All of us have struggled with critical or negative thoughts at some point, sometimes with dire consequences for our health, personal lives or professional activity. According to The Happiness Trap by Dr. Russ Harris, roughly 80% of our thoughts are negative, making it very difficult to control our critical feelings and become more accepting of who we are and where we are at a point in time.
Whether by learning how to love ourselves more, practicing positive psychology or simply becoming aware of our critical thoughts without getting caught up in them, there are several ways to effectively manage negative feelings and thoughts. Here is what 15 Forbes Coaches Council members recommend:
Forbes Coaches Council members discuss how to silence your inner critic once and for all.
1. Focus On Progress, Not Perfection
Marie Forleo coined the phrase “progress, not perfection” as it relates to starting a business, but it’s applicable to everyday life. It’s important to recognize that you are a work in progress. Everything is not going to be achieved at once. However, if you see yourself as taking baby steps and staying in action, that will go a long way for improving your mindset. – Dr. Venessa Marie Perry, Health Resource Solutions, LLC
2. Start From Scratch
Critical thoughts, negative scripts and fears of failure are the true roadblocks to our success and self-actualization. Once we re-frame our situation as one that a great many people have faced and overcome in the past, then it becomes easier to find out and replicate how those in similar situations have overcome. Everyone starts from scratch at some point, so why not me, today? – Yuri Kruman, Master The Talk Consulting
3. Practice Positive Psychology Daily
Whether writing in a daily gratitude journal, delivering a random act of kindness, mailing handwritten ‘thank you’ cards or volunteering your time, retraining your brain to think more positively through taking purposeful action will help you see that all challenges are beneficial. Critical thought is a tool of learning that you use to help others through similarly challenging situations. – Michael S. Seaver, Seaver Consulting, LLC
4. Love Yourself
As cheesy as it may sound, the book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant talks about loving oneself as one of the most important things we can do to shut down or drown out our critical selves. It is as simple as repeating “I love myself” constantly. It is seeding into your mind the idea that irrespective of situation, outcome, action taken, not taken, result, no result, you accept yourself. – Gia Ganesh, Gia Ganesh Coaching
5. Create A Mantra
This is a slogan or motto that reminds you of how you are able to tackle this situation and have done so in the past. Common examples include, “This too shall pass” and “Tomorrow is another day.” Other examples include reminding yourself of your value and your past successes, such as, “Remember, you got promoted,” “People know I do a great job,” and “This is hard but I can handle it.” – Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC
6. See All Human Beings As Having The Same Value
If all human beings have the same value, then you cannot earn more and be better than anyone else, and you can’t lose value and be less than anyone else. You can have all kinds of interesting learning experiences that teach you things, but no matter what you go through, your value stays the same. If you choose to embrace this idea, you must also give up judgment towards others and yourself. – Kimberly Giles, Claritypoint Coaching Academy
7. Fill Your Thoughts With Compliments
With all the negativity around us, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being self-critical. There are plenty of other people who will be critical, and you don’t need to be one of them. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, start thinking (or better, saying out loud) compliments about yourself. When you fill your mind with positive, there is no room for negative. – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC
8. Focus On The Journey Of Life
Life is a journey and not a destination. Along the way, there will be twists and turns. However, success is in the journey. When you are being critical of yourself, consider this exercise: (1) List three things you are grateful for, (2) Highlight two positive affirmations about yourself, (3) Facilitate one act of random kindness. This exercise will raise your positive energy instantly. – Alicia Reece, The Reece Group
9. Practice Daily Gratitude
Start with gratitude. When you wake up, spend 15 minutes in silence. Write, meditate, or read something inspirational. Find three things to be grateful for. At the end of your day, write three more things you’re grateful for. This creates a shift in your brain chemistry, helping you feel happier and at ease. It also calms your nervous system so you can be more self-forgiving and less critical. It works! – Nancy Marmolejo, TalentAndGenius.com
10. Calm Your Critical Brain
Calm the critical part of your brain by finding some safety symbols in your immediate physical space: a cozy cushion, your coffee mug, a piece of art. Feel the warm feelings in your body when you see those items. Remember those symbols any time you go hypercritical. Slowly, you will retrain your brain that all is OK even when you have critical thoughts. – Bijal Choksi, BC Consulting Inc.
11. Embrace Your Unlimited Potential
No matter where you are now, your potential for success is unlimited. So, get excited and embrace it. Approach each day with newfound curiosity and enthusiasm. Forget about perfection. Make lots of mistakes and learn from them. Set goals with a sense of urgency and work diligently to achieve them now. Disappointment is only a phase. Remember to embrace your whole life and strive to be happy. – Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., WordSmithRapport
12. Write Down Critical Thoughts
I find physically noting the critical thoughts can help get rid of them. After you’ve written it down, think of a solution to whatever problem that it poses. With your solution, take the attitude that you can’t fail — everything you do will succeed. Then, do things to see that solution out. Even a tiny step will help the critical thought become less and less. – Jennifer Oleniczak Brown, The Engaging Educator
13. Change The Picture, Change The Frame
A properly selected picture frame can add beauty to the right photo. Conversely, a poorly selected frame can devalue even the best image. Likewise, the frame individuals place around their own value or circumstances can be a proper fit that enhances or detracts. At times, it is necessary to adjust one’s image or viewpoint. At other times it is simply necessary to change the frame. – Eddie Turner, Eddie Turner LLC
14. Question Your Thoughts
Question your thoughts. A great tool I use on myself and clients is Byron Katie’s process of inquiry called “The Work.” It is a written meditation tool that’s similar to cognitive behavioral therapy and is grounded in the Socratic method. It’s a wonderful way to release yourself from the stress of limiting thoughts and beliefs. – Kelly Meerbott, You: Loud & Clear
15. Bring Light To The Inner Critic
Our inner critic lives and breaths hidden deep inside us. It can be helpful to write down those critical thoughts, look at them on paper and then ask, “What evidence is there to support this statement?” We can look at this ourselves or with a coach or mentor. What we find so often is that when we bring the inner critic’s thoughts to the light of day, they do not hold up. – Irvine Nugent, Irvine Nugent & Associates.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.