emotional habits

How to Stop Being So Critical of Yourself [Exercises and Worksheet]

I remember watching my adoptive mother look at herself in the mirror and say, “I look like 10 lbs. of crap in a 2 lb. bag,” with her Queens, NY accent and her hands grabbing at her belly.

She regularly beat up on herself emotionally. Every time I heard her, it broke my heart. When I criticize myself now, I know it’s her voice I hear in my head.

Are you being bullied by your own thoughts?

Do you spend more time mentally punishing yourself than you do taking action? Do you feel exhausted before you even begin working on a project?

Everyday I battle some kind of limiting belief in my internal dialog.

“Who cares what you’ve accomplished, there’s an entire list of things you never get done.”

“Yippee, you wrote a blog post. Your writing kinda sucks.”

Then I’d get into punishing myself for being negative, “Why am I always talking this way to myself? Why can’t I just stop?”

Geez, Me! You’re harshing my mellow.

Your internal critic is longing for empathy and compassion.

Even though I’ve spent my entire adult life studying mindfulness, creating new neural connections and choosing positivity over pessimism, I still find myself slipping into unconsciousness when it comes to negative self-talk. I’ll be writing, painting, or working away, and my mind is playing a self-abuse track on loop.

Take the first step. Bring this pattern into your conscious mind. Recognize when your thoughts start to become negative.

These thoughts don’t have to control the quality of your life. After realizing how often negative self-talk enters your daily routine, there are several methods to use to counteract these little poison pills.

  • Take a deep breathe, notice the feelings in your body. Are you beginning to tense up? Do you feel hot? Where does the heat seem to originate from in your body? Are you shaking, sweating?

Getting thoughts out of your head, and into your body, can keep your mind from taking a trip to Mean Girl Island. This will give you time and space to center yourself, and observe emotions more objectively.

negative self-talk

Create a Mantra Pinterest Board

Repeat Positive mantras.

How we think about ourselves and others is an emotional habit. If we purposely choose to focus on positive thoughts, we create new emotional habits.

Create a Pinterest board for quotes and mantras that embody the vibe you want to cultivate in your daily life. Check them out before you start your work day, and get inspired!

If your mantra is currently, “No one could ever love me,” change it to, “I am loved. I deserve love. Love is my freakin’ middle name!”

Create a daily gratitude practice.

Stop shaming and blaming yourself, and start choosing to see your amazing gifts.

Gratitude practice is a regular habit for successful, happy folks. No matter what your situation, you have many things for which to be thankful.

By choosing to focus on the wonderful aspects of your life, you’re not choosing to be oblivious to hardships, you’re intentionally creating how you see your world.

Meditate on non-judgment.

If you don’t already meditate, now is the best time to start! Nothing creates more space for awareness of emotional habits than meditating daily.

Be mindful throughout the day of how often you judge what you’re observing. You might be surprised how frequently you go there. Gently let go of the meaning you attach to any thing or event.

I highly recommend the app and website Calm.com. Their meditation series on “non-judgment” will have you seeing things in a new light.

Forgive Yourself.

Feelings of guilt and shame can keep us from connecting to our higher selves. They also leave us ruminating over things we could have done, or said, differently.

None of us are perfect. Not you, not me, not even Oprah.

Mistakes, wrongs we have committed against ourselves or others, they are all part of the game of life. They are learning experiences necessary for our growth.

Be your own best friend.

How do you envision your ideal best friend? Loyal, loving, supportive, kind?

Be that for yourself! Don’t let you treat you badly. You deserve respect and compassion.

How would your “best self” talk to you? Replace harsh thoughts with kinder ones.

Honor Your Feelings and Be Solution-Oriented.

Try making a list of your ruminating thoughts or worries, and create an anti-worry. This empties your head of problems and can put things in perspective.

You can do this in the morning and evening. The list can include your negative self-talk, daily worries, anything bouncing around in your noggin.

I’ve attached a printable PDF worksheet to help you begin:

Negative Self-Talk and Worries Solution Table

For every thought that doesn’t feel great, reflect on where that thought originates from. Put the negative thought in column one. The source of that pain goes in column two. The thought you want to replace it with, in column three. In this column, you begin creating your new reality.

You are closer to being totally in love with you. You are beginning to allow the life you deserve to form.

Every aspect of life can be seen from nearly infinite perspectives. Choose the perspective that makes you feel like your best self and make it your reality. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, do something to interrupt the process. Laugh, dance, call a friend. Go outside. Pet your cat.

In our day to day lives, we need to be able to cope, and move forward, with handy tools like the ones above. Everything in life changes. Your state of mind included. You can create new emotional habits with persistence.

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