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How to Calm Your Inner Critic in Seconds

How to Calm Your Inner Critic in Seconds

It’s amazing how mean we can be to ourselves.

The inevitable truth about your full-time inner critic is it knows your biggest weaknesses and darkest secrets. As a result, it only takes one nasty phrase from your inner commentator to bring out the worst in you.

It doesn’t matter how successful, kind, giving or loving you are. The part that judges you tends to ignore the good. It gains strength when you buy into its awful statements and it thrives when you act in self-defeating ways after it attacks your hope or character. The more your actions are dictated by your inner critic, the more influence it has over you in the future.

The benefits of soothing your inner critic

I’m going to offer you a simple, yet powerful way to give a chill pill to that unforgiving voice in your head. This suggestion will help you build a more understanding inner dialogue that has the power to neutralize the negative effects of your inner voice’s judgments against yourself and other people.

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By improving your ability to soothe your inner critic, you’re likely to enjoy the following benefits:

  1. Your anger will spoil fewer moments of your life.
  2. You’ll kill fewer brain cells. Yes, venomous self-hate and giant anger outbursts kill cells in your body.
  3. You’ll find yourself applying this technique to the way you judge others, which will make your personality more magnetic because you’ll appear more likable and approachable to others.
  4. You’ll feel more at ease knowing that you have a technique at your disposal for taming the angry beast inside you.

What I’m about to tell you has worked quite well for thousands of New Yorkers, especially people who specifically needed assistance with anger management or chronic depression, but it can help anyone. So here it is, the best way to be nicer to yourself (and the people you love).

There I go judging again

Every time you catch yourself in the midst of self-judgment, say in your mind or out loud, “There goes [insert your name] judging again.”

The goal is to repeat this every time you notice yourself judging inward or outward. I promise you that after 30 instances of hearing yourself say this, you’ll feel the difference. Let me show you how to apply this technique to self-directed, mental daggers.

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Example #1 – Shutting Down Self-Judgment

Let’s say you were just laid off from your job. Whether you were hoping for this outcome or not, your inner critic is probably going to have a field day with this.

Every time you begin to belittle yourself about losing your job, stop everything and say, “Upppp, here I go judging again.”

Example #2 – Shutting Down Outward Judgment

Don’t forget to apply this technique to your judgment of other people — strangers, family, friends, coworkers, teachers or your long-term partner — give them (and yourself) a break. For example, you’re at a party and someone you don’t know is ranting about why one political candidate is better than another. You completely disagree with him and you begin to feel the urge to put him in his place and shut him down by disproving every point he’s making.

If you’re passionate about politics, you’re probably not going to stop yourself from hating him in your mind, but you can neutralize the negative effects of hate on your brain by saying to yourself, “Upppp, there I go judging again!”

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Why is this simple technique so effective?

Because it allows you to practice putting distance between you and your judgments, thereby suppressing some of the negative effects of the judgment.

Know that when you judge, you lose.

There’s no winning in judgment. Judgment makes people depressed and unhappy. In fact, if you think about the most unlikable person you know, I bet he or she loves to judge people. Don’t be that person. Give your mind and body a break.

The key to the success of this simple, but potent technique is to commit to doing it as much as possible. When regular practice is combined with a true appreciation of it’s benefits to your health and happiness, you’ll begin to transform your inner critic into a less punishing entity.

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You must understand that the price you pay for judgment is not worth it. Even if the only message you get from this piece is that judgment kills, I will feel like I did my job. Tell me, what did you get out of letting that judgment hijack your mood? Ok, you might be able to prove him wrong, but there’s no winning.

Judgments aren’t wins

You’re not going to stop judging, but you can influence the impact that judgment has on your health and happiness. Judgments aren’t wins. They are losses that can ruin your life. Bitterness builds over time like mental plaque, which is the result of tens of thousands of heavy judgments.

Judgments aren’t wins. They are losses that can ruin your life. Bitterness builds over time like mental plaque, which is the result of tens of thousands of heavy judgments. People who feel like the world owes them something are usually the biggest judges and believe me, their health will suffer as a result of their unchecked judgment.

I must credit Dr. Peter Reznik with inspiring me to apply this technique to my work with patients and to my own life. Believe me, this easy hack can make a huge difference in your life!

Featured photo credit: Photo Credit: Bigstock via bigstock.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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