She takes up a permanent residence in your head when you aren’t looking.
Her self-righteous attitude evident, as she tips her nose and flips her hair.
“You cannot be serious” she taunts. “What made you think you could do this?”
Your Inner-Critic Mean Girl.
She thrives on your insecurities.
Ever-judgmental and never forgiving, she rolls her eyes the instant you step out of your comfort zone.
“Are you sure you can do that” she taunts. “What if you fail-you’ll be a failure.”
And so you pause.
What if she’s right? Her loud voice begs attention. You know she knows you better than anyone. She’s been with you for as long as you could remember.
If it were an Olympic sport, you would have medaled by now. Gold-medaled.
Why is it that we have astronomical standards for ourselves while we practice compassion and grace for others?
William Shakespeare summed it up perfectly ” There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Having some degree of inner criticism is normal, and for most people, it helps improve productivity. However, an overly critical view of yourself is actually damaging to your mental health and your sense of self-esteem.
This kind of continuous negative self-talk keeps us from stretching ourselves. Your Inner-Critic Mean Girl has one goal in mind…to keep you exactly where you are. It’s a biological stop-gap to keep you from getting hurt. Staying-still means steering clear of the saber tooth tiger that lurks around the corner.
However, staying-still also keeps you from discovering the fertile land and streams just beyond your horizon. The place where you will flourish, grow and achieve your dreams.
So what’s a girl to do?
We have to beat your inner Mean Girl at her own game.
According to Tonya Rineer, author of Mindset Switch “words affect thoughts, which affect feelings, which affect beliefs. And in order to effectively transform those core beliefs, you have to start at the surface and work your way through the layers. Words are the surface.”
So why do words we tell ourselves matter? Because words have power. And whether they are words of encouragement, support, affirmation or betrayal, they affect the way we think about ourselves.
Especially when they come from our own inner dialogue and we have attached meaning to them that derails our confidence.
It’s time for our inner Mean Girl to learn a new vocabulary.
- Try the Buzz Words Game: In Mindset Switch, Tonya teaches her readers a fun way to rephrase negative self-dialogue by finding alternative ways to express challenges, fears and deflated emotions. Make a list of all of the negative phrases that pop into your head (“I can’t, I’ll never, I don’t know how, I should…” and tape the list to the refrigerator. Every member of the household can play! Anytime someone utters one of the phrase, they get a check mark and a quarter goes into a jar. When the week is done, the winner with the least amount of checks wins the money prize. Live by yourself? Play it for points. Improve your score each day and reward yourself at the end of the week with a splurge! (Spa day anyone? Your Inner Mean Girl can’t come.)
- Fake it Till You Make it: Similar to the Buzz Words Game you have to begin replacing that snarky-inner-Mean Girl talk with affirming language. The trick? You have to catch yourself and then rephrase it into a positive replacement. Even if you don’t “believe” it. When she pops up with a “You don’t belong here girl” before you walk into an important meeting speak to yourself as if you would a best friend “You go girl, you sit at that table! You earned your role here. Let’s sit down and make a difference!” Cheesy? Yes. Will you believe it. Not at first. But it will distract your negative thought pattern and knock your inner Mean Girl off her kilter.
- Tell Her Off: The next time she goes into a tail-spin (and begins taking you down with her) make a list. Jot down all of her phrases that are popping into your head. Next grab another color pen and rip her a new one. Really, let her have it. Tell her how sick and tired you are of her negative mind-talk and you are not putting up with it. Next, write down all of the really super fabulous stuff about you and why you are going to have an awesome life…without her. Tell her to hit the road.
- Give Her a Name: Seriously. This can actually be kind of funny and help take the sting out of her over-compensating criticism. Maybe you call her Self-Blame Sally, Nagging Nancy or Belinda the Bad B….well you know where I am going with this. If you give her a name it’s easier to separate her from the “real you” and being able to say “Listen Nancy, I hear your concern. But I’ve got this. I will catch up with you later when you are in a better, more rational mood.”
- Find Her Triggers: Does she pop up regularly after you’ve just spoken to your Mother? Is she always around whenever you hang out with a certain “perfect” friend? Is the hangry hour of 5pm her cue to ring your doorbell? When you begin to notice the patterns of when she appears consistently, you can begin to outsmart her and proactively affirm your confidence. If hanging out with a certain crowd always gets her going, take some time to figure out what thoughts she is focusing on and what she is trying to tell you. Her messaging might mean you need to steer clear of people who act more like “frenemies” then friends. Be curious, but don’t give into her negative diatribe.
Your Inner Mean Girl is never going to go away fully. She does have a job to do (when she is motivated to do it) which is to help you look for ways to improve and grow. Keeping her under control when she goes off the chain can help move past your insecurities and put your toes in the water of change. How much power she has is up to you.
It has been all along.
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