Apprehensions of the BODY FOR LIFE Challenge can pull out the inner critic in all of us. Those thoughts of not being able to complete the Challenge, or not having enough time, can discourage us to the point of failure. It is important to learn how to control those thoughts and replace them with positive, encouraging ones that will change your outlook on the Challenge. When you allow negative thoughts to control you, you are more likely to feel defensive and close-minded and less likely to feel comfortable interacting with others. These negative traits can often lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy – people will respond negatively to you and reinforce your self-conscious feelings.
In order to deal with low self-esteem and silencing the inner critic, you can take three steps:
- Recognize signs of irrational thinking. There are patterns of thinking that can distort the messages we give ourselves and discolor what other people are saying to us. When you recognize when you are, for example, personalizing or catastrophizing a situation, step back and use “thought-stopping” approach to keep the negative words out of your head.
- Find the hidden agenda. Behind some of the messages that we give ourselves lies a hidden agenda – the insecurity and doubt we feel when we compare ourselves to others. Recognizing why you have negative thoughts and insecurities is the first step to changing your mindset. We all do it, but comparing yourself to others (especially on the surface level) will always lead to insecurities. Instead, try to accept that each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses and there is always room for positive improvement.
- Refute the critic. Being negative is easy - positivity is what takes effort. Every time you have a negative thought, intentionally counteract it with a positive one. When you say or think negative things about yourself, think about how you would feel if someone said that to you, or worse, if you said them to someone else. We are so hard on ourselves sometimes, that we forget to sit back and take a much-needed pat on the back. Keep your accomplishments and positive attributes handy; next time you have low self-esteem, give yourself a pep talk.