How do I turn off my negative self-judgment?
I hear this question repeatedly from my coaching clients, and I’ve certainly struggled with it myself at times. When I say, accept your inner critic, I mean accept that you have one but not necessarily everything it tells you. We spend far too much time trying to deny the critic, drown it out, ignore it, pretend it’s not there, or bargain with it, and it’s exhausting. We’re fighting an uphill battle and using precious time and energy better spent on our writing—so, let’s accept it.
Acknowledge your inner critic.
Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you are already well aware of the negative messages going around in your head. The negative chatter might sound something like this:
- You’re no good at this.
- This is a stupid idea.
- No one will want to read this.
- Don’t let people see what a bad writer you are.
- This has all been said before.
- You should just give up.
You know what I mean, right? You aren’t alone; we all wrestle with the negative inner voice.
If you are aware of this voice, you’re off to a great start.
Listen closely to what your inner critic says.
This step may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s essential. Listen to the judgments, and you may find that many of them are undeserved, if not ridiculous. You can dismiss these reasonably easily. If it’s a struggle, take a look at the evidence that refutes the message.
For example, if the negative message is, “You’ll never get this book finished,” make a list of everything you have done to move the project forward and track your progress.
Remember to celebrate the victories—a first draft/chapter/page completed—the more you do this, the stronger your position in refuting the critic.
Remember to say “yes” to your ideas.
Act on what your inner critic is telling you.
Now that you are listening, you may find that the inner critic is dishing out criticisms directed at behaviors that need your attention or improvement.
Take action! For example, if you aren’t meeting deadlines, you can address this by making a plan, having goals, and creating reminders.
By improving areas that call for it, you are moving in a positive direction and diminishing the critic’s list of complaints.
Embrace gratitude and kindness to neutralize the inner critic.
I find that gratitude saves me whenever I feel afraid, insecure, or bombarded by negative thoughts.
Don’t overthink it, just grab a pen and a piece of paper and begin to list all the things you’re grateful for, and I promise you’ll feel better by the time you get to the end of the list.
Be kind to yourself.
Acknowledge your successes, however small. Speak to yourself with kindness and compassion, the way you would speak to a dear friend.
Sometimes, your inner critic will direct negative thoughts at other people. If you can embrace a compassionate attitude as these thoughts come up, it will bolster your efforts to diminish the negative thoughts you direct at yourself.
Acknowledge ⇒ Listen ⇒ Act ⇒ Embrace ≈ Free your writer within!