We all do it – put ourselves down when we make a mistake. I know I am guilty....
“You stupid ***** idiot...”
“I'm so forgetful...”
“I'm useless at this...”
...Until it becomes a “Why me? I hate myself!”
The trouble is that our subconscious minds respond to these messages. It believes anything we tell it, and doesn't recognise sarcasm or humour.
But did you know that the major causes of depression are the critical voice you use on yourself everyday, and not fulfilling your life's purpose? These two things often go hand in hand, as the more critical you are of yourself the less likely you will achieve your goals in life. It then becomes a cycle of depression, and reaffirms what the subconscious is believing – that you are no good, will never get anywhere, and so on...
How can we change this? By interrupting the cycle – changing the words you use – it really doesn't matter if you don't believe them! Instead of the above examples, say:
“I am smart, and have the right to not be perfect...”
“I remember so much! (you have your pants on right?)”
“I can learn do do this...” “….because I am enough.”
As babies, we are full of confidence in ourselves. We have no inner critic; this is learnt through events in our lives. If babies had an inner critic, how many of us would be walking, talking or feeding ourselves! A baby sees the end goal and doesn't worry about the bumps and scrapes along the way- they are part of the learning experience. He gets up, has a hug, and starts again. The trouble is that some of us reading this will just think “What is the point? I don't believe what I am telling myself.” But if you keep replacing negative phrases with more positive ones, your subconscious will eventually believe it – BUT you have to make these phrases absolutely familiar, which is WORK. Your mind loves sticking with the old familiar, as it has kept you alive so far.
DOUBLE UP good vibes: Praise others as well as yourself. It makes you feel great inside to tell someone you think they are doing great. There are a lot of people who talk about your 'energy' and 'chi' and all sorts of theories of laws of attraction etc., but you don't have to believe any of that. It is not actually important. The important thing is to feel better about being YOU.
So here's some things you can do – make a list of all the critical things you say to yourself in pencil, leaving a couple of lines gap between each phrase. Then go back, in red pen, fill the gap with the opposite positive affirmation. Read through that list every day for ten days, then... rub out the negative phrase and read through the positive statements every day for 20 days. You could be even more effective by writing these phrases on sticky notes and place them where you will see them each day.
One final tip, which has the most beautiful effect on the mind, is to practice GRATITUDE. Every day when you wake, list in your head 5 to 10 things you are grateful for. They can be the most simple things, such as hearing bird song, being comfortable in your bed, having food and electricity... who knows, it's your list. Feel the feeling for a few moments before starting the day. The positive effect this practice has on you mind creates positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, feel more compassion and kindness to others and can boost your immune system.
One final note – all these tips require work to be effective in changing habit of thought. But there are different ways to do these things. Gratitude jars, journals, notes to self on your phone – there are a ton of tips online. If you like this article and think of other ways to change your critical mind, let me know at email@example.com