Even the most successful people deal with overcoming their critical inner voice. Oftentimes it's this internal dialogue that helps push people to reach their potential. However, when your thoughts become self-defeating and toxic, they can have the opposite effect and become a barrier to your success. "The way you think has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy," asserts Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker. In Psychology Today, she outlines exercises used in therapy to help improve the way people think and tame their inner critic.
Pay close attention to your thoughts. Morin notes that it's estimated we have around 60,000 thoughts per day and we're so used to hearing our own inner narration that "it's easy to become oblivious to the message you're giving yourself" and you begin to accept what you tell yourself regularly. She suggests to pay close attention to your thoughts and recognize thought patterns and how they affect your life. When you notice yourself becoming negative, try "changing the channel." Morin advises that the best way to do this is by getting active.
"Find an activity that will temporarily distract you from the negative tapes playing in your head," she suggests.
Take a look at the evidence. When you find yourself faced with worries paired with the idea that you're bound to underperform or even fail, Morin says to examine the evidence. Writing down a list of reasons you would fail—then a list of reasons you wouldn't—helps put things in a more logical, fact-based perspective. "Looking at the evidence on both sides can help you look at the situation a little more rationally and less emotionally," explains Morin. "Reminding yourself that your thoughts aren't 100% true can give you a confidence boost."
Balance self-betterment with self-acceptance. "There's a difference between telling yourself that you're not good enough and reminding yourself that there's room for improvement," identifies Morin. Successful people may be self-critical, but they use their assessments of themselves to foster their growth, not cut themselves down. "Accept your flaws for what they are right now while committing to doing better in the future," suggests Morin. She admits it may sound a bit counterintuitive but insists it is possible to do both simultaneously.