A guest post by Stacie Burley
How we communicate as leaders has a direct impact on our teams, our co-workers, and our relationships. We understand that the words we use with others have the power to build them up or to tear them down. Therefore, we generally take our time in crafting communications and interactions with the world around us . We understand-often through our shortcomings-the power of our words and the way they are expressed.
We typically have enough restraint to control our interactions with the world around us- but what about the world inside of us? Unfortunately, most of us do not show ourselves the same consideration we show others. We typically don’t check the language we are using with ourselves, and we rarely question its validity.
With ease, we tend to let negative self-talk run rampant through our heads. The positive self-talk that builds us up is quickly and quietly drowned out by the negativity of the self-critic. You know the voice I’m talking about. It’s the voice that tells you you’re not good enough. The voice that reminds you that your efforts are not enough. It’s that voice that is incredibly skilled at pointing out all the areas in which you’re falling short, instead of all the areas in which you’re excelling.
That critic-the one you’re giving airtime to in your head- is affecting your self –image and your ability to obtain your goals. It even has the power to affect how you work through difficult tasks, the way you approach learning, and your ability to improve performance.
So how do you take the microphone away from the self-critic?
1. Turn down the volume and slow down: When negative self-talk takes over, try slowing down your thoughts and asking yourself, “Is that true?” This simple question can often stop the inner critic in its tracks or at least slow it down. Most of the time, our inner critic projects fear into a situation, rather than reality. Simply pausing to ask, “What is true in this situation” is the first step in retraining your thinking and beginning positive self-talk.
2. Ignore the crowd: One of the inner critic’s greatest strengths is the ability to make you believe you have an audience to please and that their thoughts are the “norm.” But you can’t control what others think of you or how they judge you or don’t judge you, so why base your decisions off what they may or may not think? Stop using everyone else’s standards to measure your own life and actions. Confidence, growth, and self-esteem should be independent of other people’s opinions.
3. Make Cuts: The inner critic loves to use other people to keep you down. Work to identify and say goodbye to the individuals or groups of people who feed your inner critic and negative self-talk. You know the ones I’m talking about. They reinforce negative messages about yourself and belittle who you want to be. Cut them off, get rid of them and never look back. Find and invest in people who will challenge your inner critic, not those who give it a microphone.
4. Treat yourself like you treat your best friend: You are intentional about building up others and choosing your words carefully; it’s time to do the same thing for yourself. When your inner critic speaks up, consider what you would tell a friend in the same situation you are facing. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. You don’t deserve any less.
Stacie Burley is Communications Manager at The Soderquist Center and a certified yoga instructor. She holds an MBA from John Brown University. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.