“Automatic negative thoughts” is a term used by psychologists to describe uninvited negative thoughts that invade our minds and leave us feeling miserable.
We all have an inner critic inside us. For some people it is more active than others, but it is there, waiting to attack us especially when we are feeling weak and tired!
The problem is, most people actually believe the inner critic to be all-knowing and its negative thoughts to be an accurate reflection of reality.
The truth is, the inner critic is typically portraying an extreme, unrealistic point of view – and not a reflection of reality.
According to John-Paul Flintoff, the author of “How To Change The World,” negative thoughts tend to fall into the following broad categories.
Black and white thinking, with no grey areas: “I’ve completely failed.” “Everyone else can do it”.
Mind reading other people: “They think I’m boring.” “People must think I’m stupid.”
Crystal-ball gazing: “There’s no point in trying. It won’t work.”
Over-generalisation: “This relationship ended, so I won’t ever meet anybody.”
Disqualifying the positive: “I may be a good mother, but anybody can do that.”
Drama queen: “I can’t find my purse. I’m going senile.”
Unrealistic expectations: “I should keep going, even when I’m tired.”
Name calling, to self and others: “Silly fool.”
Self-blame: “She looks cross. It must be my fault.”
Catastrophising: “Nothing is ever going to work for me.”
Any of the above sound familiar?
So how can we take control over our inner critic and eventually silence it?
Here are steps you can take:
1. Acknowledge your inner critic
Do not ignore the inner critic, and pay close attention to exactly what the inner critic is saying.
2. Get acquainted with your inner critic
Really get to know your inner critic. When does it pop up? Who does it remind you of? Why does it feel that way?
3. Imagine what your strongest supporter would say to defend you, and speak those words to the inner critic.
4. Share the thoughts of the inner critic with someone you trust, or write them down in a journal.
Bringing the thoughts out in the open will help your anxiety disappear.
It will probably take some time and effort to silence your inner critic, but the benefits are well worth it!