Developing a Positive Mindset
Negative self-talk, previously discussed, is the little voice in your head telling you that you can't, that you're not good enough, that you aren't smart enough, that you can't succeed, that you're ugly, fragile, weak, and fearful. The voice must be stopped. The voice must be silenced if your self-esteem is to ever flower.
You are the only person on earth who can stop negative self-talk, your inner critic. No friend, family member, coworker, or advocate can stop the voice, because it is in your mind. It is there, haunting you with pathological statements that cause great damage. A positive mindset will remain elusive until the voice is silenced.
“Do not attempt to do a thing unless you are sure of yourself; but do not relinquish it simply because someone else is not sure of you.”
— Stewart White
Voice of the Critic
Your inner critic or negative self-talk is a direct consequence of your unhealthy self-esteem. Everyone has an inner critic, but people with unhealthy self-esteem are more likely to give the critic validation. Your negative self-talk damages your ability to function in many ways.
Most specifically, it damages your ability to take constructive criticism without suffering a complete meltdown. It clouds your ability to learn from your mistakes. It limits your growth possibility because it continually tells you that you are not worthy of growth or change. It continually compares you to others that it perceives as better, smarter, kinder, prettier, and so on.
The voice incapacitates you with “You should have …” You've heard them all: “You should have been more loving,” “You should have been more forceful,” “You should have exercised more,” “You should have studied more in school.” The “shoulds” are the primary ally of your negative self-talk.
The voice is a powerful force and a pollutant in your life. Sometimes, it is more powerful than your own voice or the voice of those who love and support you. However, you can learn to make the voice stop, or at least learn how to tune out the voice so that it does not exterminate your ability to have healthy self-esteem.
It's not rude. Say it out loud. “Shut Up!” Say it again. Sometimes, this is the way to silence your inner critic — by simply letting it know that you are not going to take it anymore. It sounds crazy, but in actuality, it may be the sanest thing you do all day. The next time you hear your inner critic begin to drag you down with negative thoughts, acknowledge it. Let it know that you hear it and that you disagree with it and that you are not going to listen. This is the first step in silencing the critic. Ignoring the inner critic will not make it go away.
The next step in silencing the critic is to make a conscious commitment to yourself that the next time you allow the inner critic to have a voice, you are going to fight back with five tangible, provable, true facts about yourself. You are not going to use abstracts or false praise about you, but you are going to fight back with weapons of truth.
If the inner critic says that you are just a fat slob, you will find five ways to prove the voice wrong. “I am on an exercise program.” “I have lost 12 pounds.” “I am a very clean person.” “I am exercising every day.” “I have cut my food intake in half.”
Another important step in the battle of the critic is to let it know that you know what it is up to. It is okay to let your inner critic know that you know it is trying to manipulate you and take advantage of you. It is okay to let it know that you know it is speaking so that it can live.
Without your permission, the critic dies. Its motives are to keep you down so that you will keep it alive. So, the next time the voice arises, even the playing field by saying to the critic, “I know you have ulterior motives.”
Next, to silence the critic, you will need to take the power away from the critic. This means that you are going to acknowledge the negative traits on which the critic feeds. “I am overweight.” “I am not perfect.” “I am not good at relationships.” “I did not finish college.” “I lose my temper sometimes.”
This is a strategy that many politicians could use if they were smarter. If you acknowledge that you have shortcomings, as everyone does, then you disarm the critic and make its use of these statements ineffectual. You have taken the power away from the critic by being the first to admit the shortcoming; as a result, it can't be used against you.
Finally, you can silence the critic by beginning to work on the negative aspects of your life that you wish to change. If you admitted that you are overweight, have a temper, and are not good at relationships and want to improve these attributes, goal setting is the best way to begin the journey.