Being detached from the reality of your actions can cause you to feel frustrated like you are on a hamster wheel to nowhere.
One approach to work with this kind of negative self-talk is to remind yourself of the true merit of what you have already accomplished. When you find yourself dwelling on what you haven’t done, pause and acknowledge the thought without judgment. Take yourself out of the equation, and objectively ask:
What have I already done that is going to help me get closer to where I want to go?
Write down your answers, and read them aloud to yourself. Taking time to intentionally reflect on the bigger picture can reveal all the positives you previously overlooked.
Some examples of polarizing are:
“I didn’t beat my personal best this time, I suck!”
“I burnt one of the biscuits, I’m the worst cook in the world”
If your thinking is very black and white, then you are likely experiencing polarized negative self-talk. When you are in a polarized mental space, you see your behaviors and outcomes categorically – they are either good or bad, there is no in-between.
Perfectionism can be a cause of polarizing. Wanting everything to be perfect creates an untenable idea that causes you to micro analyze all your outcomes. The micro-analysis creates an energetically draining and seemingly endless cycle of problem spots.
One method for dealing with polarized thinking is to remind yourself – Perfection is an illusion and reality is subjective. As Shakespeare wrote,
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Shakespeare poetically describes every human’s secret superpower – the ability to control your individual perception.
You have the power to shape your subjective reality by controlling your power of perception. When you accept that perfection is an illusion, you free yourself from the pain of trying to perceive all things, including yourself, through that lens.
Want to know more about how you can limit your self-criticism? Check this video out below!
Some examples of catastrophizing are:
“Traffic is terrible, I’m going to be late! Now my whole day is ruined.”
“My partner didn’t say I love you this morning. We must be about to break up.”
Remember Chicken Little, who got hit on the head with an apple and immediately thought the sky was falling? He was the poster child for catastrophizing. If the slightest negative outcome triggers you to anticipate the worst outcomes in all areas of your life, and you believe calamity is inevitable, then you catastrophized the outcome. This type of thinking takes cause and effect reasoning to an illogical extreme.
In order to overcome catastrophic thinking, it’s important to remember that not every action you take is related. While you may be late to work because of traffic, it does not automatically mean your day is ruined. Likewise, if your partner forgot to say I love you before work, that doesn’t mean you’re definitely breaking up.
Think of cause and effect like a tree. The initial cause is like the tree trunk and the effect can be any one of the many branches that sprout from the trunk. The next time something unexpected throws you for a loop before you assume the worst, remember the worst is just one branch of the tree. You can always choose a different branch.
Now stop beating yourself up and give yourself permission to live!
Not every situation is going to go your way – and that is expected. When things go left, you don’t have to become your own worst enemy; instead, you can be your own best friend.
Be compassionate and patient with yourself as you begin to cultivate deeper self-awareness. Shifting out of long-established patterns of negative-self talk will take dedication and discipline. Be firm but kind to yourself. It may be difficult to completely eradicate the inner critic but, you can empower yourself to confidently shut him up.
Written by Alwida Rivera