Did you know that an average person has about 6,200 thoughts per day, EVERY DAY? That is based on the most recent technology which can track the beginning and ending of each thought. Some neuroscientists have suggested we have 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts in our mind every day! Human beings have this amazing ability to store and process a vast amount of information, but we often are unaware of it. So often we did not even pay attention to what we said to ourselves.
Let us do a little forensic investigation here. Think of the last time you forgot something important and you had to go home to retrieve it. What did you say to yourself? Did it sound something like – “geez, why am I always so forgetful?”
Or think of the time when you were learning to do something for the first time. You felt a bit overwhelmed and were having some issue. What did you say to yourself? Was it along the line of – “oh gosh, I am so clumsy/stupid/ridiculous/bad at this, I don’t think I can do this.”
These are the things that we will not tell our loved ones, but we do not seem to have any problem passing some real harsh judgement to ourselves. We are indeed our own worst critic.
It is very common that we subconsciously put limitations to ourselves. A healthy dose of insecurity is a good self-regulatory mechanism, but too much of irrational self-doubt is deliberating and prevents us from achieving the growth that we want. When we believe that our talent and abilities are pre-determined, we tend to avoid new experience where we might feel we would fail. As a result, we do not learn as much and we get “stuck” overtime. See how this self-fulfilling prophecy is at play here?
So what do we do with our self-talk? Next time when you catch our inner critic’s voice – ask yourself if that is a rational assessment, and what is the hidden agenda underneath the criticism. For example, I tend to say that I am not athletic because as a child I always lost when I played basketball with my brother (who is years older than me and played in school basketball team). This is not a fair comparison. So in the future when I try out a new sports, I need to replace my bad self-talk with this new message –
“I enjoy challenges and I am learning something new.”