Have you ever wished you could just stop fighting with self-doubt and other negative thoughts?
As smart women, we can be experts at getting in our own way. This usually happens in our mind, in the form of negative thoughts, beliefs, or stories we tell ourselves. Our inner critic starts reminding us of our ridiculously high standards, our fear of failure, or some great justification for staying stuck. Negative thoughts create procrastination, guilt, shame, and a whole lot of stress. They lead to binges and overeating and keep us up at night. They leave us cranky and irritable and full of self-doubt and they can be responsible for getting us way off track with the things that are important.
Here’s the thing. If you’re like me, your inner critic and your negative thinking have probably led you down the same path for years. You know the script by heart. You may grow gentler with yourself over time, but when something activates your negative thinking or your inner critic, it’s usually the same old (very old) dance.
Fighting with your inner critic and your negative thoughts hardly ever gets you anywhere. In fact, a lot of the time it’s an exhausting waste of energy that can leave you feeling worse.
What’s a smart woman to do?
Stop fighting your inner critic and invest your energy elsewhere. When she invites you to the same old dance, you don’t have to accept.
You are in control of where you invest your thoughts, your energy, and your time. Just because something exists, doesn’t mean you need to invest yourself in it.
Choose your focus.
What does this look like?
When your inner critic or your self-blaming negative thoughts show up, you can decide that they aren’t helpful and choose to put your attention on something else.
This is not denial or avoidance. It’s a choice.
It may be saying to yourself, “Yes I do have all sorts of beliefs that I’m not good enough and I’m going to fail. But I’m choosing not to fuel them right now…” Then focusing on something that helps you feel even one inch more powerful or confident or grateful.
Don’t feed the negative thinking.
Instead, ask yourself what you’d like to feel instead – and find any thought or memory that helps you move in that direction.
The feelings that you choose to spend time with are probably the feelings you will feel more and more of.
Want to feel confident? Don’t blast yourself because you don’t feel confident. That’s just engaging your inner critic. Don’t go there. Instead, tell yourself something that stretches your belief in yourself – even if it’s just repeating that phrase from The Little Engine that Could – “I think I can, I think I can.” Remind yourself of what you have accomplished instead of focusing on your self-doubt.
This is not silly. It’s powerful.
When your mind wants to convince you what you can’t do, focus on what you can do, what you have done, and what you are doing. Practice using your thoughts to encourage you and to move you to a place that feels good.
What you focus on grows.
The thoughts that you choose influence your future thoughts and flavor your feelings. The feelings that you allow yourself to soak in, will impact your mood and your energy, and your vibrance.
You don’t have to destroy your inner critic (you never will). You just don’t have to dance with her.