Silencing the Critic

Everyone has their own moments of doubt and self-criticism.  For some people, the voice is hard to tune out, or to turn off.  Even the most successful and well-grounded people have that little voice that creeps up from time to time and makes them question themselves and their abilities. 

Over recent months, that little voice of mine has been resurfacing more regularly, more insistently.  It’s definitely caused me more than a few moments of mental downward spiraling.  I get caught up in the negative self-talk, which causes even more negative self-talk, which leads to moments of crushing panic and despair. 

I can see how easy it is to continue going down that path. That voice can be persuasive, and enduringly persistent. It takes some self-determination to block it out and to see reality. I’ve been learning how to deal with these moments.

My coping mechanism is to first recognize what’s going on.  Sometimes, that can be challenging when all you see is the negativity and fear that gets instilled in you.  Once you recognize what’s going on, you can start to pull yourself out of it.  How do you do it? That’s more challenging and varies by person. It can be anything as simple as watching a funny video, listening to an uplifting song, taking a little walk to change the physical location that you’re associating with the negativity.  What works best for me is disassociation.

Over the past few years, as I’ve continued to work on my self-development, I’ve learned to identify my ego (that little critical voice inside of me) as a separate, distinct person.  It’s not Chris.  It’s not Chris’ thoughts.  I recognize his personality – he’s forceful, he’s repetitive, he’s persuasive and he’s, frankly, annoying. To take it a step further, I’ve even given that little voice a name.  And when I recognize that I’m starting to enter that downward spiral, I tell him to knock it off.  I’ve named my little voice Donald.  So whenever I start self-doubting, comparing myself to others, criticizing my abilities, creating a feeling of want or lack, I take a moment to stop everything and then I simply say three little words:

Donald, stop tweeting!

And poof…the spell is broken.

While listening to a podcast earlier this week on my walk home, I found my recent thoughts being coalesced into a coherent, intelligent statement. Seth Green was on Chris Hardwick’s ID10T podcast and was saying that he’s come to realize that in order to be “successful” in life, you need to be able to manage your moods. You need to not take things personally. And you need to not get too defeated. He then went on to say:

I am just as susceptible to the crippling insecurities, self-doubt and depth of depression as anyone else, but I recognize that these moments are not permanent; they shouldn’t be my definition.

Seth Green

This perfectly summarizes what I’ve come to realize as of late. These moments of weakness and self-doubt are just that – moments. They are not a permanent state of mind, unless you allow them to be. I most definitely do not want them to be permanent, so I must prevail. And I shall.

What do you do to pull yourselves out of that downward spiral? How do you cope with feelings of insecurity or that you’re not good enough? Share your tricks and tips!

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