At the beginning of each new year, many of us feel pressured to create a laundry list of resolutions. The flame of hope burns brightly when we’re staring at a blank canvas of possibilities, but what happens when the inner critic steps in? Perhaps you miss a day of going to the gym and the critic immediately steps in to tell you that you have failed at your resolution. Related article: A Lesson in Quieting Your Inner Critic
This sort of motivation is unsustainable, because while hope is an excellent inspiration, it is not a strategy for success. This year, rather than hoping to overcome your inner critic or hoping to change old habits, try something new: create a strategy to combat your inner critic. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve when you replace the negative voice in your head with a positive one.
How can you overcome the inner critic?
Gratitude is the ultimate tool to shut down a critical inner voice. In a moment of negativity, it is easy to allow your inner critic to take over and remind you of everything that is going wrong. When you catch your inner critic starting a list of all the things you didn’t do well or everything you wish you had done, the fastest way to stop yourself from spiraling into a pit of despair is to have a list on hand of everything you are grateful for. Related Article: Power Your Inner Champion
This year, rather than creating a list of resolutions, try creating a list of all the things you are grateful for at the beginning of the year and everything you are excited to accomplish. Rather than a feeling of letting yourself down, this list should serve to lift you up.
Here are some tips for creating your list:
1. Write it down.
Have a physical copy of your gratitude list that you can access at any time, because it can be hard to think positively in a negative moment. If you rely on the intention of thinking positive thoughts, your inner critic can hijack the moment more easily. Read from your concrete list of gratitude until the inner critic fades from your mind.
2. Check your gratitude list for scarcity.
Things like “at least the sun came out today” may sound positive, but what that thought really boils down to is “things could be worse.” While it is certainly true that things could always be worse, this mindset can unintentionally undermine the struggles that are very real in your life. Sure, things can always get worse, but why focus on that when you could focus on things that are genuinely good?
3. Keep it close.
It is important to have your list on hand for any time that the inner critic might arise. Keep a copy at your desk and have another saved on your phone so that no matter where you are when the negative voice comes up, you have an accessible tool to combat it. Replacing your inner critic is essentially breaking a bad habit, so every time that you successfully overcome it, you are one step closer to automatically choosing gratitude over criticism.
This new year is a chance to focus on the good and let go of the need for perfection or the habit of focusing on the negatives. We invite you to choose compassion for yourself over criticism, and we hope that this gratitude list will be a helpful tool to get you there. Happy New Year, everyone!
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