Self-Talk Swaps to Practice During a Pandemic
When the world is in disarray, it's easy to feel frustrated—and if your frustration has led to some negative self-talk over the past few weeks, you’re not alone.
That voice in your head that amplifies worry or anxiety might be working overtime right now.
An inner critic can be loud and “live in a world of absolutes,” according to Mindful. It loves saying things like “I can never do that” or “I’m not enough” or "It's never going to work out."
And even if your self-talk feels harmless, the things you tell yourself can impact how you act and feel towards yourself and the world around you.
Now more than ever, it’s important to be your own biggest ally—not your own biggest critic. And that starts with switching your "inner critic" voice to one of a supportive "inner advocate."
Here’s how you can do just that:
Notice Your Inner Critic
Before you begin practicing how to make the switch between your inner critic and your inner advocate, it’s important to know how to recognize when your inner critic is present.
Reflecting on what your inner critic is saying may seem counterintuitive, but taking time to unpack what it's saying will help you start to defuse it.
“When you’re mindful of your inner dialogue, you might notice there’s something familiar about the words, tone or attitude in the self-criticism,” Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and Forrest Hanson write in their book Resilient: How to Grow An Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness. “Does it remind you of anyone—a parent, sibling, relative, teacher, coach?"
Use these reflections to take a step back and separate yourself from that inner critic. This will take practice, so extend grace towards yourself as you do so.
Notice Your Inner Advocate
Now that you know a bit more about the negative self-talk you might be experiencing, take time to find that inner voice that’s rooting for you—or, as we like to call it, your inner advocate.
It's the voice of someone who is there for you and wants the best for you—your inner advocate is rooting for you, comforting and soothing you when things feel difficult, and reminding you of your own strength.
What does your inner advocate sound like when it’s rooting for you or proud of you? Is it assertive or shy? Does it come out after certain actions or during certain times of the day? Does it sound like someone you know in your life who shows up for you in a supportive way?
It may take time for you to channel your inner advocate, and that’s OK. You can try to find that voice through mindfulness practices—like taking a ‘loving kindness break’ or listening closely to the voice in your head that pops up in a moment of joy.
Just recognizing that you have an inner advocate is a big step, too.
Once you’ve spent some time with your inner advocate, you can start trying to amplify that voice when negative self-talk creeps in. Notice what your inner critic is saying, and try to swap it for more affirming statements.
It might sound like this:
●︎ “I’m never productive” → “My worth isn’t defined by my productivity”
●︎ “My life will never go back to how it was” → “I’m resilient in the face of changes and I have adapted before, just as I’m adapting now”
●︎ “I can’t do this” → “I can be kind to myself in the midst of big changes”
Whatever your swaps sound like, remember: You're activating a powerful self-talk tool, and even the smallest changes are worth celebrating.
See these uncertain times as a chance to befriend your inner advocate. What you might find: You'll feel more resilient through the challenges you face and come out on the other side of this kinder and more supportive of yourself than ever before.
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