I am so stupid! I can’t believe I missed that! They are going to find out that I am just not cut out for this job. I am never going to be successful at (fill in the blank). I’m not smart enough, attractive enough, and I need to get into better shape. I don’t know why I even bother to do better, because I am just set in my ways and will never change.
How many of you relate to these statements? How many of you have said these exact things to yourself? When recalling how you speak to yourself, notice how you feel. My guess is that you feel worse after calling yourself names and criticize yourself. My other guess is that you end up not completing the task at hand because you convince yourself that there is no way you are competent enough to be successful.
We all have an inner critic or “voice” that notices all of our flaws. In fact, more often, this inner critic not only notices them, but also highlights them, gives them power, and convinces us that these statements are TRUTH. When talking to people about this voice, most would agree that it serves to keep us “on our toes” and creates enough anxiety to make us competitive job applicants, graduate school applicants, successful parents, partners, etc. However, I want to ask you, when does this voice get in the way? When does it become a hindrance to your success?
If you notice yourself feeling anxious, sad, angry, and/or exhausted when hearing this voice, it is most likely a sign that you need to begin to speak to yourself in different way. Here are some steps you can take to begin to engage yourself in a different, more self-compassionate manner:
Step one: Notice when you are being critical of yourself and the activity your are performing.
Step two: Ask yourself: “How am I feeling?” For example, are you feeling anxious? Sad? Defeated? Angry?
Step three: Ask yourself how you can respond in a more compassionate way. For example, if you notice that you automatically tell yourself “I’m stupid,” challenge yourself to say, “ I don’t understand how to solve this problem right now, and I am taking the time to process. I am capable.”
Step four: Notice if anything in your body has shifted when you make the conscious effort to respond to yourself in this way. For example, you can assess whether or not your shoulders feel less tense, if your heart rate has decreased, and/or if you feel more at ease.
Changing the way you respond to yourself can promote your sense of competency, which ultimately has an impact on your self-esteem and how you relate to others. Challenge yourself to be kinder to yourself this week and notice what happens!
About the Author
Dr. Cristina Dorazio is a New York State licensed psychologist and owner of her private practice, Unity Psychological Consulting, PLLC. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University and her specialties include: women’s reproductive health, couples counseling, mindfulness, and career coaching. You can find more information about her practice at: www.unitypsych.org.