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  • Turner New Leaf

Soothing the Negative Inner Critic

If there was one thing you could change today, what would it be?

For me it would be my inner negative critical voice. It’s a voice that condemns, complains, criticises and castigates me into a downward spiral of depression, discouragement, despair and dullness.

I decide to post a positive or interesting meme every day to improve my mental health and to entertain and inspire others. But that isn’t the whole story. For years I have been battling my mind to try to hear my positive voice more often, the one that encourages me and uplifts my mood. There are a number of ways in which I’ve attempted to do this.

· Mantras. I wrote a mantra on a post-it note and stuck it to my mirror. Every time I saw it I breathed deeply, read the mantra and reinforced my belief in myself. Now the mantra is inside my head and I look at it whenever I need to.

· Acknowledgement. Every time I caught myself being critical or mean to me, I paused to recognise it was my inner negative critical voice and I acknowledged it. I said to myself “I hear that thought, I know it’s my inner critic, I can choose to believe it or not, I can choose to take these words to heart or not”. It was a full time job and it still plays a big part in how I manage my mind.

· Meditation. In my meditation my mind is released to wander freely. I can imagine my life without limits, without constraint. Not everything that is imagined can be borne in reality. But everything in reality can be changed in the imagination. I can see where I am and I can imagine where I want to be and that gives me something to hope for and work towards.

· Mindfulness. This is the practice of paying attention to things. Every day I find something that gives me joy and I revel in it for a moment. Sometimes it is the sound of the birds in the trees, some days it is hearing someone laugh, other days it might be looking at a beautiful picture or hearing a great song. I immerse myself in that experience, enjoy it in that moment and then carry on with the rest of my day. Later I might have another experience that I can luxuriate in.

· Praise. I reward myself for doing something positive, something that helps me work towards my goals. It might be after I’ve done some exercise, or when I’ve done the washing-up, or when I’ve caught myself being negative and I turn it into a neutral or positive thought. I tell myself “well done”, “good for you”, “that’s great”. When I forget to praise myself with words, I will most often reward myself with food. But that starts a spiral of comfort overeating which quickly turns into a negative. I’ve found that when I praise myself, it soothes my negative inner critic and I am spurred on to do more activities that have a positive outcome.

Which one of these actions can you take today to improve your mental health? Do you have any other suggestions on how to manage your negative inner critic?

#SecularTherapy #TherapeuticCounselling #SootheThyself #SelfHelp

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