30 March 2021

We often hold ourselves to the highest and strictest level of scrutiny...

2:00 Min

However, growing studies show that self-criticism often backfires and leads to workplace unhappiness. Here are three ways to transform your negative inner dialogue to harness positive strength from within.

Recognise harmful self-talk when it happens

Studies estimate that the average human being produces nearly 6,000 thoughts per day. This means we have 6,000 opportunities to either cheer ourselves on or weigh ourselves down. “The key is not to drive out the critical thoughts,” explains psychologist Russell Kolts, “but to notice them, try to release them, and cultivate more compassionate ways of relating to yourself”. Take a few minutes to slow down your breath. This will relax your body, which will help de-accelerate the mind, he advises. Try these breathwork exercises to get started.

Turn the negative into positive

Once aware of the negative thoughts, learn to reshape your thinking by embracing positivity in two steps. First, release the harmful contemplations by recognising that they don't serve any valuable purpose beyond keeping you stuck. Statements such as "I forgive myself" or "It's okay to be angry" remove the self-bashing and free up emotional capacity. Second, focus on progress, not perfection. If you spend less time being harsh on yourself, you can re-route that energy to advance forward.

Choose self-compassion

Self-compassion means being kind to ourselves, forgiving our own mistakes, and nurturing ourselves during moments of disappointment or embarrassment. Researchers agree that choosing self-compassion over self-criticism boosts psychological resilience. “Most of us have a good friend in our lives, who is unconditionally supportive,” says psychologist Kristin Neff. “Self-compassion is learning to be that same warm, supportive friend to yourself.” Here are three ways to practice self-compassion in trying times.