Avoid Negative Thinking By Naming The Critical Voice In Your Head

Avoid Negative Thinking by Naming the Critical Voice In Your Head

There's nothing wrong with a little negative thinking, but when you're too critical with yourself, you can kill your motivation entirely. Naming the critical voice in your head can help keep you from automatically believing everything it says.

Photo by Mike Fernwood

When you're working toward something, like finishing a task or achieving a goal, it's important you keep your own negative thoughts from becoming impenetrable walls. Voices pop up in all of our heads telling us that something isn't good enough, or that we're going to fail, but we shouldn't always believe what we hear. Peter Bregman at Harvard Business Review suggests getting around this by naming your critical voice:

Try this tactic: when you hear the voices, give them names and personalities. Imagine a Joey on one side, a Vicky on the other. Notice the voices in your head as voices. A lot of the time, most of us simply believe what we hear -- either from other people or from ourselves. If your inner voice calls you lazy, it's hard not to think you're lazy. It helps if you imagine it's Joey calling you lazy instead.

If it's just Joey or Vicky saying that you're lazy, for example, it's easier to think they're wrong or tell them to shut it. You can ignore another person a lot easier than you can ignore yourself. As Bregman explains, be intentional about who you listen to when it comes to criticism. It's ok to be a little critical of yourself when you're reviewing your work, but don't let your critical side overtake you completely. That can lead to motivation-killing perfectionism.

Managing the Critical Voices Inside Your Head [Harvard Business Review]


Comments

    Psychologically, there can be risks in doing this, and the base-line notion in therapy is that you own and control your thoughts, without dissociating them or creating additional personas/personalities to do this. My advice, recognise when you are being negative, and assess the value of the thought (some negative thinking is necessary an good). If you are to create and internal 'other' who you automatically oppose, regardless of the value in their position.

    In short, be mindful of your thoughts - they're yours - it's you - evaluate and choose.

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