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What Is Stopping You?: Catch Your Inner Critic

Written by Marianne Heron with Paul Britton

The frustrating thing about good intentions is that often they don’t get off the drawing board. Why? It can be quite a challenge to make lasting changes due to our tendency to self-sabotage. So what can you do to avoid this? A key step is to become aware of your inner dialogue, that ongoing subconscious conversation you have with yourself.

One of the voices that can get out of line is the inner critic, for instance, when you have made a minor mistake you might tell yourself ‘Oh no this is all going to go pear shaped!’ Once you have tuned in to this, you can practise changing the dialogue by:

  • Pause Button. Finding your pause button, the point at which you can still stop the negative spiral. Road rage is a good way to illustrate an emotional arousal pattern. Developing the ability to spot the upward curve of this kind of reaction, hitting the pause button and making a conscious choice to respond differently to triggers, can make a big difference to the outcome.
  • Reframing. Looking at things in a different more positive light.
  • Doing a reality test. Check whether what you are telling yourself is true and, if not, readjust the picture accordingly.
  • Respond not react. We all have triggers which provoke an emotional response and the art of self-management involves becoming more aware of what is going on in our thoughts so that we can choose to respond to events rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to them.
  • Solution focus. Put the emphasis on solution not problem, looking at what works and when the problem wasn’t present. Look for exceptions to the problem and if something doesn’t work try something else.
  • What do I need to do to get there?  Deal with three stages.
  1. What do I want?
  2. How will I know when I get there?
  3. What do I need to do to get there?
  • Bear the 3 Ps in mind.
    Positive. Remember to be positive. Spot and beat the negatives.
    Persist. Don’t give up if things don’t work out, if you backslide or make a mistake (mistakes are a learning experience). If something isn’t working then try something different. (Madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results).
    Procrastination. Deal with it. Recognise what it is you are avoiding, ask yourself why you are really doing so. It’s not because you haven’t got the time to write the letter or do the filing, it’s because it seems like too much hassle. Actually it uses up far more energy pushing aside the thought of what you ought to be doing and avoiding it than just doing the job. From time to time reflect on your achievements and adjust as required. Reward yourself if you have met your targets or even whenever you have made positive progress.

You may get stuck from time to time and if you do try talking to a friend or doing something you really love for a while. Hitting a patch of the doldrums can often be a sign that you are subconsciously getting ready for a ‘go for it’ phase.

This excerpt was taken from Rewire Don’t Retire, sponsored by Irish Life and Active Retirement Ireland. You can access the full guide HERE.