5 Tips to Crush Your Inner Critical Voice: Life Kit: NPR

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Illustration of a person lovingly looking at themselves in a mirror.  The mirror is adorned with sticky notes covered with positive affirmations meant to help combat negative self-persuasion.

Everyone has these inner gremlins talking to them, evoking the worst thoughts, questioning their instincts, and generally being mean.

Where exactly do these critical voices come from? And why are they so medium? If you’re reading this, you probably know what I’m (TK) talking about – it’s a negative inner monologue, and anybody is exempt.

So we talked to one of my favorites, Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. (more commonly known as Dr. Joy), an Atlanta-based clinical psychologist and the host and founder of Therapy for black girls, about some ways to silence those voices.

Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D., is a registered psychologist, speaker, author and host and founder of the podcast Therapy for black girls.

Carol Lee Rose, Colurwrk


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Carol Lee Rose, Colurwrk

Do you talk like you would talk to a friend

Much of our negative self-talk comes from messages we’ve heard in the world and internalized – perhaps from a hypercritical caregiver, a bully at school, or the media.

When we blame ourselves for mistakes, disparage our own appearance, or talk about good ideas, we are not giving ourselves the grace and attention we would give to others. Try to be self-compassionate and replace that negative inner voice with a kinder one.

“We’re talking about using the same language and the same kind and gentle approaches that we do with the other people we love in our lives with ourselves,” says Dr. Joy. “Because we’re also people we hope to love, aren’t we?” ”

When you realize that you are laughing at yourself, ask, “Would I say this to my best friend?” Then remember who you really are. As a best friend to myself, I try to remind myself that we all make mistakes, no one is looking at my button and I am happy to be with me!

Monitor and collect evidence

Before you can turn that nasty little voice out, you need to be aware of how it works. “We want to monitor and keep a journal of the type of negative self-talk we have,” says Dr. Joy. Pick a half day, write down these negative thought patterns, and write them down.

Then you need to collect the receipts. Once you notice that you are telling yourself not-so-nice stories, gather evidence to know if the things you are telling yourself are really true.

Dr Joy gives us an example. Say your negative self-talk is, “I never get anything done. Ask yourself, “What evidence do I have to support this? Have you got never accomplished whatever, or did you get a promotion last year? Did you get out of bed on time this morning? ”

Note this evidence. “There’s something about physically writing something that kind of lets you see, ‘OK, that’s not really true, is it? “Said Dr Joy. Once you’ve got the gremlin business turned around …

Find statements that match

Coming out of a negative inner monologue episode can be difficult. Our lack of self-esteem at the moment will not allow us to believe the claims of people around us or of ourselves. Positive inner monologue is a crucial step in changing our habits, but to think of ourselves as bee’s knees might be too grandiose right now.

You can tone down your statements to make them seem authentic to you. “What we want is something that you feel you can grow in. So” I pledge to love myself a little more every day “or” I pledge to do my best every day ” or “I am better than me. “

Spend less time on social media

Studies show that people around the world spend three hours (and climb!) a day on social media. I’m definitely guilty of wasting 30 minutes here and there going through all of my feeds. I inevitably end up on what I call “Therapy IG,” where all of the free mental health counseling lives. It may seem uplifting at first, but sometimes it makes me doubt myself, and I have to ask, when are all these contributions too important?

Dr Joy agrees that many therapists offer great ideas and resources, but she also says that all of this information can be crushing. “When you’re already someone struggling with negative self-persuasion… the last thing you need is a bunch of social media accounts telling you you’re wrong.”

She suggests checking out how much time you spend on social media and being aware of the type of information you are consuming.

“While it’s helpful, it’s just not good to be constantly in one place to watch all the things you could do better, as opposed to saying ‘I’m pretty good the way I am, even though’ there are some things I want to work on. “

Don’t think less of yourself – think less of yourself

Obvious (but difficultThe way to stop being so hard on yourself is to stop thinking about yourself so much. “What often happens with depression and anxiety is that we feel like people are paying us a lot more attention than they actually are,” says Dr. Joy.

If you’re feeling stuck obsessed with all of your supposedly horrific failures (Dr. Joy calls it persevering), she says doing something with your hands can help get you out of that space. Gardening, knitting, coloring book, Play-Doh – you get the idea.

Life kits to get you out of your head

Or try to get outside and observe the world around you. “If you feel comfortable taking your shoes off and putting your feet on the ground, or if you’re near the water, can hear the waves or hear the waterfall, anything you can do that really connects you to the fact that there is something bigger than us, ”says Dr Joy,“ can be a very useful way to change your perspective a bit so that you’re not so focused on yourself- same. “

A quick recap

The key to rejecting negative self-talk is how we practice affirmation. Surround yourself with positive influences; reinforce them with reminders like sticky notes or voice notes reminding you of all your accomplishments and goals. Try to limit your time on social media, or at least scroll to the puppies and kittens side of TikTok. Take stock of how amazing you are getting every day and never let yourself be told otherwise.

The podcast portion of this story was produced by Andee Tagle.

We would love to hear from you. If you have a good life, please leave a voicemail message to us at 202-216-9823, or email us at [email protected]. Your tip might appear in a future episode.

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