What steps are you taking to end how you negatively talk to yourself?
In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of ending harsh self criticism, and the idea that even though you cannot control that you feel or how you feel, you do have some measure of control over how you think.
Now, let’s take this idea one step further. When you put yourself down, it looks like you can be in control of just how bad you’ll feel because you are in charge of your self critical thoughts. This includes:
- When you start and stop thinking them
- How frequently you think them (hourly, daily, weekly, etc)
- The intensity with which you think them (just how mean you are)
- The duration or length of time you think them
I call this the “delusion of control,” because all the ways you can be in charge of your self-critical thoughts (e.g., frequency, intensity) make it appear as if you are in charge of an experience (your spontaneous reaction of feeling disappointed or frustrated) that you actually had no control over.
Not only does harsh self-criticism act as a thought-hijack of unpleasant feelings after something hasn’t worked out the way you desired, but, much like anxiety, it can also act in a preemptive manner.
In this case, your harsh self-criticism shows up as self-doubt, thus inhibiting you from pursuing what is important to you. Due to your own doubt, you hold yourself back and are reluctant to take risk.
Negative self-evaluation or harsh self-criticism can be a rather elegant, yet profoundly destructive strategy for disconnecting or distracting from the eight unpleasant feelings.
Some researchers have described it as a strategy for safety and self-protection. In an odd sort of way, your harsh self-criticism may protect you from the critiques of others, but it also prevents you from fully expressing yourself with others, or in expressing yourself in life.
This weeks action step:
What did you notice about your own patterns of harsh self criticism or negative self talk?
Stay in the practice of catching yourself using negative self talk and bringing yourself back to the unpleasant feelings underneath. Then, use these feelings to determine whether you need to make any decisions, express yourself, or take action.
Wishing you the best,
Dr. Joan Rosenberg
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