Career & Job Articles

Transform Your Inner Critic

Friday, March 28th, 2014

shutterstock_133427858Your inner critic.

Everyone has one.

Most people want to shut up, destroy, annihilate, or otherwise quiet that voice in their head that says things like, that was a stupid thing to say, or you look so fat today, you’re dumb, you’ll never get anywhere in life. I’m sure you can add your own.

Your inner critic is the voice that monitors your every act, word, and thought.

When it’s out of control, your inner critic can rule your life and ruin your self esteem. It can fill your mind with fears and worse case scenarios.

But what would happen if instead of trying to shut your inner critic up, you would listen to it? I don’t mean listen as in taking its words as true. I mean listen as hear what it’s saying, think about it, and then make your own decision whether or not to believe it.

What would it be like if you viewed your inner critic not in the sense of negative critical messages that should be dismissed, but as a cautious voice that can be helpful if its understood?

How it works is this; your inner critic makes a remark like, “You’re going to mess up this presentation.” So instead of just dwelling on the negative thinking and giving it power, you spend a couple of minutes critically thinking about it. How would I mess up the performance? Is that something that could realistically happen? If so, what can I do to fix it?

You can view your inner critic as  a negative force weighing down on you, or it can be a tool that you use to discern your strengths and weaknesses.

There are two crucial points here.

The first is that your inner critic is neither good nor bad. It points out your insecurities, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s kind of like a coach. Sometimes it can have valid points, and sometimes it makes mountains out of mole hills.

The second is that the more thought and attention you give to a particular idea or internal message, the more power you imbue it with. Dwelling or ruminating on fears is draining …


The Importance of Connection, Part 1: How to Get and Stay Connected

Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Everyone needs to feel connected.

Everyone needs to feel connected.

When I first became a bird owner, I noticed that my cockatiel Sunshine would only eat when someone was near her.

Most birds are flock animals; they rely on the members of their community for companionship, safety, and parenting.

In the wild, Sunshine would only eat with her flock members there to watch out for her.

Like many other animals, humans have an inborn need for community that is crucial to not only our survival but also to our mental health and happiness.

Not everyone needs 40 friends, but everyone needs someone they can rely on to help them through the harshness of life.

WHAT KEEPS US FROM BEING CONNECTED TO OTHERS?

  • For some people, it’s depression. One of the key signs of depression is withdrawing from social situations. People who become depressed turn down invitations, fail to show up to gatherings, and limit phone calls and visits with friends.
  • Other times, it can be a change in life — a move, divorce, death in the family, or illness. Many adults I’ve spoken to have said that when they graduated from high school or college they found they had a hard time making new friends in the ‘adult’ or working world.
  • Many people are so afraid of rejection that they stay away from getting close to others.

5 Easy Ways to Overcome Negative Thinking

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

shutterstock_80347894This past weekend, I found myself 400 miles and 3 states away from home with $16 of cash, a half tank of gas, but no credit cards.

I pulled into a gas station and asked if they would take a check. Nope.

How about a credit card number phoned in from my husband? Nope.

My random gift cards were worthless here. I was worried.

I was desperate. I went back to my car where my young daughter sat and asked her if I could borrow the money in her coin purse. She had $2.38.

Digging through the crevices and corners of my car yielded another $1.03. I went inside and placed the pile of change in front of the cashier. The total amount was $19.41, a little less than 5 gallons of gas.

In my mind I was going through everything that had gone wrong. Why did I forget my credit card? Do hotels take checks from out of state? Do restaurants? What would I feed my daughter? Where would we sleep? How could I be so stupid???

I was going full force into negative thinking. I finally realized that my thoughts weren’t doing me any good at all. In fact, they were harmful. With my mind full of what if’s, there was no room or energy for realistic problem solving.

Once I slowed down I realized that my daughter wouldn’t starve, I could find a way to get some cash back from a store, and that I was resourceful enough to deal with this situation.

I did some mental arithmetic and discovered that I could keep my miles per gallon quite high if I used cruise control and didn’t rush. At 42 miles per gallon or more, I could possibly make it. And if I didn’t, I would be close enough to have someone come and get us.

Negative thoughts often sneak up when people are stressed, anxious, or depressed. And once they take root, they can impede more helpful, critical, and logical thinking.

Here are 5 simple and easy ways to manage negative thoughts when they appear.


Excuse or Explanation: Is There a Difference?

Friday, August 30th, 2013

shutterstock_43783042“It wasn’t my fault!”
“She made me do it!”
“Everyone else was doing it!”
“I’m sorry, but…”
“He started it!”

Do these sound familiar?

For some people, these phrases may bring back memories of their childhood, or they may have heard these statements from their kids.

Despite sounding childish, everyone has said something similar in their adult life to a spouse, police officer, family member, or friend.

In counseling sessions, I frequently hear how people struggle with the difference between excuses and explanations.

Some people hesitate to give any explanations; they see explanations and excuses as the same thing, and they don’t want to be seen as giving excuses.

Others go to the other extreme and take no accountability for his or her own actions, blaming everything from their upbringing, their stress load, their partner or kids, for their wrongdoing.

Although it can sometimes be unclear, there is a difference between an excuse and an explanation.

People make excuses when they feel attacked. They become defensive.

Excuses are often used to deny responsibility. People make excuses when they feel attacked. They become defensive.

Explanations help clarify the circumstances of a particular event. Explanations are less emotional and less pressured than excuses.

Sometimes, the only one who can really know if their statement is an excuse or an explanation is the one saying it. Telling the police who pulled you over that you are running late for work is a good example of this. If you were hoping to get out of a ticket or lying, it was probably an excuse. If the officer asked why you were driving 30 in a 25, and you answered honestly, it was an explanation.

Why does it matter?

Consider the following situation:

Your 14-year-old daughter has brought home a failing grade on her science report. You ask her what happens. She says:

  1. “It’s not my fault! The teacher wasn’t clear on what to include in the project. Everyone else got a bad grade, too.”                                               or:
  2. “I didn’t understand what the teacher said, and …

Sometimes it’s the Little Things that Hurt the Most

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Have you ever had a moment when things are going relatively smoothly, then something small happens and your whole world is turned upside down?

Often we think that big problems come from big incidents: your spouse divorces you and you become depressed, your house burns down and you have nightmares for weeks, you fight in a war and have PTSD.

But trauma doesn’t fit so neatly into a box.

Some people experience severe trauma with very few lasting side-effects; others go through what many would consider a minor trauma and it has a significant, life-changing impact. So what’s going on?


The Importance of Perspective

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Have you ever felt like the car you were in was rolling backwards, only to realize that your car was actually still, but the car next to you was moving forward?

You inadvertently judged your own movement based not on what was truly happening, but on what your mind thought was happening.

Sometimes what we see, experience, and believe is not completely valid or true. Like an optical illusion where what the eye sees isn’t accurate, it can be difficult to gain a correct perspective at times.

Here are some questions to consider when trying to gain a better understanding of the accuracy of your experience.


5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

What would you say defines a difficult person? Is it someone who gossips? A supervisor who criticizes you in front of coworkers? A mother-in-law who disregards your request to not smoke in front of your toddler?

Difficult people are everywhere: at work, in social groups, volunteer organizations, the library, and playgrounds. They’re our neighbors, relatives, coworkers and friends.

I’m pretty sure that each of us knows a person who we consider difficult, and I’m also fairly certain that each of us has been considered difficult by someone else. We all have our own definition of who or what a difficult person is.  A behavior that makes one person furious can be perfectly acceptable to another.

Here are five easy tips for dealing with difficult people. Not every tip is right for every situation or person. Feel free to add tips that have worked well for you!


Time – Make the Most of the Hours You Have

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

How many times have you complained that there are just not enough hours in the day to do what you need to, or wondered in frustration how the afternoon managed to slip by?

Each person has 24 hours in a day to spend. A certain amount of that is for the basics – sleeping, eating, bathing, dressing. But after those hours are spent, the rest of how you use the time is really up to you.

Throughout the day, you make choices – how long to read Facebook, or how many TV shows to watch, if you take your child to the park, or spend 15 minutes talking with your partner about their day, or weed the garden.

These little bits of time may seem insignificant. After all, how many people add up the minutes they spend online, or consider the small bits of time you use talking to your coworkers, or the time spent cuddling a crying child or loving an animal?

But these small bits are where the time that seems to get away from you goes. It doesn’t disappear. It is used, but often forgotten.


Simple Tips to Improve Communication Through Active Listening

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

One of the most common problems in relationships is communication. And while some people struggle with being able to talk about their problem, often the main issue is ineffective listening.

When you have a problem that you want to bring up with someone else, or if they bring up an issue to you, there are ways to make the conversation go smoothly.

Learning how to listen is a skill that can be used in every relationship, be it your child, spouse, best friend, or even your neighbor. Using these skills may feel artificial or fake at first, but as you practice them more, and see them working, it will soon become second nature.


Are You Too Nice?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Being nice is a great quality to have. The world could definitely use more kindness and generosity.

But there are times when you can have too much of a good thing. There is such a thing as being too nice. People who are too nice end up agreeing to do things they really don’t want to do. They sacrifice independence for a false sense of safety and belonging.

Here are three characteristics of people who take niceness to the extreme.


 

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Recent Comments
  • TzuZen: Great post. Shaming has the effect noted. Self-kindness can help us cope and make changes easier because we...
  • Lily: This is a very good article. I hate that there are people who think they have the right to shame anyone, let...
  • Alex: A lot of times people will use excuses as a means of manipulation to shift the blame and reduce their...
  • Lean~in: That is a list for all to review. I also add to my appreciation/gratitude list. Today, I wrote of the sound,...
  • Something: Just today I saw something helpful. From the Art of War. “There can be no war without an...
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