Dealing with Your Worst Critic

Brian Young

Owner | Career Consultant | Coach


Our last post  talked about the need to get out of your head and not letting the little voice with negative thoughts win all the time. I know what you were thinking as you were reading our advice, “How do I do that?”


It’s understandable. Most of the time we don’t even realize how often we let our little voice dictate the direction we take in our life choices. That’s a problem; and that’s where we start: recognizing when it’s happening.


Rule #1: Listen to Yourself


Have you ever made a mistake and told yourself, “You are such an idiot!”? I have. I remember once, being a bit sleep deprived in the morning, making a pot of coffee. I put the coffee filter in the spot where the basket goes, but didn’t put the basket in first and then poured the grounds into the filter. I hit the start button and left the room until I heard the beep telling me my coffee was ready.


I came back to the kitchen and coffee was all over the counter and floor. It was under all the appliances and the stuff sitting around the machine. It was a total mess. And throughout my cleaning up the mess, I kept saying to myself, “You’re so stupid!” and “Why do you keep doing these things!” I was brutal to myself.


Rule #2: Compare How You Talk to Yourself to How You Talk to Others


It wasn’t until my wife came into the kitchen to see what all the commotion was about did I hear the words, “It’s not such a big deal, don’t be so hard on yourself.”


Why did it take someone else to say this to me when had I been in my wife’s place, I would have said the same thing? Why was I saying these things to myself, when I wouldn’t say these things to other people?


As the old saying goes, “You are your own worst critic.” You don’t expect others to be perfect, but for some reason you expect perfection of yourself. It’s not fair. Cut yourself some slack. You are better than you think.


So, listen to yourself and what you’re saying in those times of frustration and stress. When you start having critical thoughts about your talent, your intelligence, your looks, etc., stop and say out loud what you’re thinking. If you’re near a mirror, even better. Look at yourself and say what you’re thinking to your own face. Notice how you look as you’re saying those words. You’ll probably find a pretty nasty person looking back at you - someone who is mean, condescending, and judgmental.


Rule #3: Ask Yourself If You’re Being Fair


When you calm down a little bit, talk to yourself again. This time, in a rational tone and with rational thoughts and questions. Ask yourself if you’re really being fair. Does this situation really reflect who you are all the time or was this just one-time thing that you shouldn’t be judged on? Is this how you would talk to a friend? How about a stranger?


The answers you come up with will be revealing. I promise. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find that you can be kind of a dick to yourself for no apparent reason.


Rule #4: Rephrase What You’re Telling Yourself


Now that you are taking note that you’re being negative and probably harder on yourself than you should be, it’s time to reel in that little voice in your head and take control of it. How, you ask? By rephrasing what you’re saying to be a better reflection of reality.


Going back to my earlier story about the “great coffee fiasco,” rather than telling myself that I’m an idiot who always keeps making mistakes, I should have talked to myself like my wife did. I should have said that it wasn’t a big deal, just a small clean-up. I should have said that this doesn’t happen all the time, so why was I making such a production of it. I should have told myself that I’ve learned my lesson and will try not to do it again. I should have said, “nobody’s perfect.”


Rule #5: Practice, Practice, Practice


Doing this isn’t easy. In the heat of the moment, we are irrational creatures, who by default use our lizard brains that rely on instinct rather than rationality.


So we have to develop the habit of following these rules to notice when we are being overly hard on ourselves, comparing how we talk to ourselves in those moments of stress as opposed to how friends and family do, asking ourselves if we’re really being fair, and then rephrasing those negative thoughts to be more reflective of reality.


Developing a habit is hard and takes time, so you have to do this EVERY time you find yourself falling into the negative thought loop. But once it’s a habit, you’ll find that you’re being a lot nicer to yourself and, as crazy as it sounds, nicer to the other people around you.


How Can Rockit Career Consultation Services Help?


We work with a lot of people who have negative thoughts about themselves when they are about to go in for a job interview. They start talking themselves out of the game before the game has even begun. A lot of times, it’s because they don’t feel prepared. Preparation is the key to being competent; and competence is the key to confidence. So if you’d like to learn more about how to prepare yourself for an interview, book a time with us today to attend one of our interview workshops or personal consultations today!

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