Sometimes there’s more than our own perceptions influencing the voice inside our heads. We have a lifetime of experiences that have contributed to who we are. It only makes sense that our interactions with the people in our lives would have an influence on the messages we give ourselves. This is likely true of you. If you think about it, can you name one or more people who have sent you negative messages over the course of your life? We internalize these words and make them a part of our being. Overcoming the negative influence of past experiences takes a lot of work. Use these tips to help you along the path.
Recognize Past Influences
First, it’s important that you become aware of past influences and how they’ve affected your self-talk. This awareness can be a difficult and emotionally draining process, but it’s important to go through it in order to understand where your self-critical beliefs may stem from. Think about the types of negative messages you may have received throughout your life. Which have been repetitive? Those are the ones that may be most difficult to extinguish. Who was the source of these harsh words? The relationship may make the messages even stronger.
Trust Your Gut
Once you’ve established a pattern of past criticisms, it’s time to tear them apart. Examine them carefully and try to separate what’s true from what someone else may have simply placed upon you due to their own issues. Trust your gut when making these determinations. You know yourself well enough to accept your flaws and limitations. We all have them, and that’s okay. Just be sure you also trust yourself enough to know what’s fiction.
Counter Each Negative with a Positive
A good strategy to get in the habit of using is to counter each negative statement you make with at least one positive one. If you determine that there is a bit of truth to some of the past messages you’ve received, accept that. However, be sure to tell yourself at least one positive trait you also possess in order to not get mired in the negative beliefs you’ve internalized throughout your life. Getting stuck in the negative is never productive.
Some of the negative influences from your past may be too entrenched to deal with on your own. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional counselor if you feel you would benefit from an unbiased source to help you sort through it all. There’s no shame in receiving assistance. You could even just ask trusted friends for a second opinion to help you counter your inner critic.
Use these tips as a guideline when dealing with past experiences that have shaped your inner critic. Soon, you’ll be better able to recognize what is true from what has been internalized through the words of others.
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