First comes the little inner voice. You know the one: It scolds you when you do something wrong and berates you for not being a good enough mom or writer or business mind. Then those thoughts snowball into doubts and worries and overall negativity.
We all have that annoying inner voice that likes to cut us down and tear at our confidence. But how you respond to that voice matters. In fact, you have the power to control those thoughts and turn them away.
Sweeping away the mental trash
When I was a little girl and I would have bad dreams or nagging thoughts, I would picture a mental janitor (he wore white overalls and a cap and had a round belly) sweeping away whatever was bothering me. Then it wouldn’t tear at me any longer.
This technique isn’t just a child’s way of dealing with things — it’s one way of addressing that mental clutter caused by nagging thoughts.
“Nagging thoughts or head trash as I like to call it, is the result of deeply held beliefs. With that said, before you change your thoughts, you have to change your beliefs,” says L’areal Hudson, a partner at Acuity Systems, Inc., a company that helps executives achieve their dreams.
Change your thinking
As Hudson says, the key is changing your thinking. “Write down any self-limiting beliefs, create a supportive belief to replace it, and begin to act in a way that demonstrates your new belief.
This will push you out of your comfort zone, but it will also build your confidence. Remember your beliefs determine your thoughts and your thoughts determine your action,” says Hudson.
Connie Kadansky, a sales trainer/coach/speaker, agrees. “The first step is to be consciously aware of thoughts by tuning in to how you are feeling. If you are feeling drained and uninspired, take responsibility and know that you are choosing draining and uninspiring thoughts,” says Kadansky. “Rid the negative thoughts by neutralizing them with a short statement that is personal to you. To relate it differently — interrupt the habit of thought by choosing a different thought.”
Tips for tossing out those thoughts
Even if you can’t silence your inner-critic forever, you can take steps to quiet and neutralize it so that it doesn’t hold you back ever.
Erica Duran, a productivity expert and certified professional organizer, suggests these tips for beating your nagging thoughts:
- Keep a running list of all your accomplishments so when you are feeling down you can refer to them for a quick pick-me-up.
- Do something counter-intuitive to the thoughts. If you tell yourself you are not organized, then stop and take a few minutes to organize your files or desktop.
- Remind yourself that everyone feels this way at times — it is just part of being human.
- Write your negative thought down and then write every possible bad outcome for it and then write down solutions or the truth. You will see that the thought isn’t really true or that it isn’t that important or bad after all.
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