Being self-aware is great and everything, but not when the voice in the back of your head is spouting irrational thoughts like, You sounded so dumb in that meeting, or Wow, you just won the award for Worst Mom of the Year. Here, five ways to ignore your inner critic (or at least tell it to STFU).
SHARE WHAT YOU’RE STRESSING ABOUT OUT LOUD WITH SOMEONE ELSE
Yep, venting helps. Or at least talking through a situation or experience like that awkward comment—according to your inner critic—you said to your boss. When you verbalize the moment that’s left your mind reeling to a friend or confidante, it helps clear your head and rationalize it so you’re that much closer to moving on.
THINK ABOUT THE ADVICE YOU’D GIVE A FRIEND GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING
“That comment? It’s no big deal. You’re the only one remembering it.” If that’s what you’d likely tell a pal, it’s what you should tell yourself, too. Taking a step back can help you think about the situation you’re obsessing over with a bit more kindness and acceptance, which makes it easier to process and resolve.
REPLACE HYPER-CRITICAL THOUGHTS WITH ACCURATE STATEMENTS
Your inner critic has a knack for making something that happened seem a lot worse than it actually was. Manage this by thinking through what actually went down: So, you recapped the office happy hour with a little too much detail to your boss. All you did was tell her that Sally had a tiiiny bit too much wine. (No surprise there, and five of your coworkers probably told her the same thing.)
THEN, THINK THROUGH A COURSE OF ACTION TO IMPROVE
OK, your inner critic—as irrational as it can be—may have helped you discover a teeny tiny flaw that you’d like to address. (Perhaps a good policy going forward is “what happens at the office happy hour stays at the office happy hour” or something along those lines.) But keep in mind: It’s not that you’re allowing the mean-spirited voice in your head to win, it’s more that you’re tuning in to the part of what that voice is saying that’s bothering you—and how you can fix it in the future.
SET A TIMER FOR RUMINATING
Seriously, five to ten minutes is all the attention your inner critic deserves. Practice the methods above during that time, then distract yourself with an unrelated task. For example, cleaning your kitchen or getting lost in a new (or old but beloved) Netflix show.