HOW NOT TO LET YOUR PROBLEMS, FRUSTRATIONS AND INNER CRITIC KEEP YOU FROM HAPPINESS
With a new way of thinking about our fears, problems and frustrations, we can take our power back and live a happier life every day. In this lesson we are going to study how to retrain your inner critic and live a happier life.
One of the greatest obstacles to happiness is our own inner critical voice that all too often fills us with self-doubt and unhappiness. This voice often compares us to other people frequently showing us how we appear to come up short in the process. This inner voice, the inner critic doubts our abilities or even our worthiness of achieving our goals in life.
This is the voice that becomes louder in our own hiead when we face stressful difficultities in life. It says things like “why does everything always go wrong for me?” or “I’m so stupid!” “I’m never going to be good at this!” or “Things never work out well for me.” These type of thoughts are like making withdrawals from our Mental Happiness Bank. It’s time to get “Happiness Rich!” It’s time to put some happiness coins in the mental bank account!
We would never let anyone talk to anyone we love the way we speak to ourselves in moments of stress in our life. But this critical self-talk is not rational or even entirely conscious. It happens habitually froma subconscious level. And it’s not just you experiencing it. This voice disrupts the happiness of people from young children to world famous CEOs and sports superstars. Luckily there’s a powerful way for us to respond to this habitual negative self-talk and allow ourselves to have more peace, more self-confidence and more happiness! It’s called the “growth mindset”.
World famous author and visionary thinker Wayne Dyer wrote “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!” First becoming aware of and then changing the way we look at stress and problems is hugely important if we want to live a happier life.
A central focus of this course teaches us how to be more “mindful” which basically means how to be more aware of our thoughts and feelings. When we notice our negative self-talk in part due to practicing our mindfulness meditation and other skills, we can then respond to and rewrite this unhelpful script that all too often increases our unhappiness.
Let’s change the way we look at our inner critical voice and see it as an opportunity to improve how we feel, improve our self-confidence and decrease stress or anxiety.
Today and from this point forward be on the look out for your inner critical voice and when you hear it take a deep breath and think about whatever statements you heard. Then practice challenging what you notice your inner voice saying.
When we look at them and challenge especially absolute statements with words like “never” and “always” in them we know right away they are inaccurate. For example, you might notice yourself think-talking “things neer work out well for me!” The reality is however that things do work out well for us all the time. So ask yourself, “is this really true?” and check it out.
Here’s how this could work.
Negative self-talk example statement:
“Things never work out well for me!”
Take a deep slow long breath and then ask an awareness check question.
Awareness check exmple question:
“Can I remember things ever working out well for me?”
Things are constantly working out for us every day! We had a bed to sleep in last night, hopefully a roof over our heads, we had food to eat today, we have shoes to wear on our feet etc etc.
So we notice the self-talk first. That’s called being mindful. Then we pause, breath and challenge it. Think of it as if you’re on sentry duty gaurding a really special place from intruders. The intruders in this analogy are your self-defeating thoughts and the special place is your brillient mind. What does a sentry do when someone approaches? They shout “Halt! Who goes there?” They question and challenge the intruder right?
Now you can practice mindful self-editing and respond to yourself.
Mindful response rewrite examples:
“Things are not working out well for me… as far as I can see this time”
“Things are not working out well for me… when I quit so I’m going to try again!”
“I just can’t get this to work…yet!” You see how powerful using the word yet can be? It reminds you that through effort and persistence you can improve.
Educator and researcher Carol Dweck describes and coined the term “growth mindset”. This includes the idea that we achieve more of what we want in life when we embrace the idea that we can always learn new things and improve when we persist, learn and keep trying. From this viewpoint we can learn not to see our place in life as being set. And we can learn to feel better by using one simple word… yet!
So remember, when we hear our critical inner voice saying something like “I haven’t succeeded!” We can notice it and we can respond “I haven’t succeeded YET!” This reminds us that we can always get better.
So instead of saying something like “Oh shoot this didn’t work out” or “Dang I didn’t succeed!” using our growth mindset we could say “Oh shoot this didn’t work out yet!” or “Dang I didn’t succeed yet!” We can always keep trying and improve and therefore we stop thinking that failure is permanent.
This course is here to help you practice becoming present and mindful in life so you can fully enjoy the many riches you are surrounded with around you and the happiness that comes from inside you.
This helps to relieve the stress and anxiety that comes when things don’t work out the way we intend them to and when we have less stress we make better choices that yield a happier life. The power of the growth mindset is in changing how we interpret the events and things we experience in life so that they empower us to keep moving forward in life rather than anchor us. And the goal of this course is help you learn to create a positive forward momentum of positive empowering change. Now take your Happiness Action Step!
>HAPPINESS ACTION STEP
Here’s your opportunity to put this into practice (homework assignment). See if you can catch your critical inner voice judging you harshly or being cynical about your prospects in life in the next day or two and use your new growth mindset approach to respond to yourself and see how you feel. Notice that inner voice if it says things like “this is too hard”, “nothing ever works out for me” or “I’m never going to be able to do this!” Be aware, be mindful of those thoughts and feelings and notice them but do not dwell in them!
Keep breathing deeply and remember to respond compassionately to yourself. Remember to modify the negatives like “I can’t figure this out!” becomes “I can’t figure this out…yet.”
Maybe if your inner critic says something like “this will never work” you can modify it with “this will never work unless I change my strategy or get help.”
Listen to your inner voice today and write your experiences responding to it down in your journal. You can always write to us about your experiences and we will be here for you! Please mark complete when ready and enjoy the next lesson!