I know I'm not the only one who experiences negative self-talk. You know, that little voice inside that likes to point out flaws, insufficiencies, hypocrisies, failures?
Conventional self-help wisdom says, Don't listen to that inner critic! Instead, focus on the positive, recognize your strengths, think about what you're grateful for....
I think that is bad advice.
Not that I have any problem with focusing on the good. In fact, I think it's really, really important.
The problem is the assumption that we should only think positive thoughts, and that the inner critic is therefore a threat to us.
Heck, a lot of the time it's right! We do make mistakes. We do treat each other badly. We are often ignorant and selfish and irresponsible and do things we regret.
There is a ton of good stuff about us too.
Read any good biography of a hero, and you'll find a flawed human being who nevertheless did great things. We don't have to be any different.
Next time you're feeling down on yourself and your inner critic starts listing all of your shortcomings, what would happen if you quit fighting against the negativity and simply admitted it was true?
For me, even acknowledging that a negative judgment might be partly true is enough to make a difference. It helps me breathe, and let go of whatever impossible standard of perfection I was clinging to. Yes, that thing I just did was boneheaded and embarrassing. Sigh.
There is freedom in admitting guilt, and just allowing reality to be what it is. When you no longer need to defend or justify what you did in the past, it opens up possibilities for what you might do next.
What do you want to do now?
Ultimately, it's the only choice that matters.