Have you ever been in a situation where you are constantly criticizing yourself? You are insecure when you see your boss giving a special assignment to a colleague, or you “sense” that there may be favoritism; that you may not be truly up to the task? Or, do you ever feel you may not be cut out for your role altogether? Have you ever questioned your performance, competencies, or worst of all, compared them to a colleague’s skills only to ultimately devalue your contribution and see your colleague’s work as worthy?
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we talk to ourselves this way, beat ourselves up, and diminish our accomplishments? Why do we strip ourselves of the feeling of worthiness?
I started reflecting on this issue recently when I realized that many women (myself included) have fallen victim to this unhealthy habit. As Megan Dalla-Camina and Michelle McQuaid, authors of Lead Like A Woman, observed, we never talk to a friend the way we talk to ourselves! That statement resonates deeply with me. As I reflect on the concept of the inner “mean girl” voice, I’ve come to realize that it is important to address this issue so women everywhere can change thought patterns towards positive reinforcement. Women must befriend their inner compassionate voices and have more gentle and positive conversations with themselves.
The Art of Taming Your Inner “Mean Girl”
According to Dalla-Camina and McQuaid, our minds are exposed to more than 1 million bits of information per second! That’s a lot of processing, and it’s no wonder that some bits of information get distorted from time to time. In fact, our minds are only capable of processing around 40 bits of information per second, and it’s quite possible to miss important details at this lower threshold. In light of this, Dalla-Camina and McQuaid recommend changing the negative stories we tell ourselves.
Instead of saying or thinking this:
• “I am not as good as she is.”
• “What were they thinking promoting me to this position?”
• “Can’t they see that my personality doesn’t fit the role?”
• “Eventually, I will screw up and will lose my job. Then what?”
…you should reframe your thoughts and words to say this:
- “This organization prides itself on hiring competent, energetic and creative people. They know what they are doing and saw something in me that fit their culture.””I know I will face a learning curve in the beginning, but this learning curve will allow me to grow, flourish, and learn new skills. In the end, I’m in a very good situation and I know I have the support I need with my boss and teammates.”
- “I know I will face a learning curve in the beginning, but this learning curve will allow me to grow, flourish, and learn new skills. In the end, I’m in a very good situation and I know I have the support I need with my boss and teammates.”
- “I’ve worked really hard during the last few years to gain the necessary qualifications. I deserve this position and will grow in this role.”Dalla-Camina and McQuaid explain that positive or compassionate self-talk is not about diluting yourself or telling yourself fairy tales. Rather, it’s about stopping the negativity we impose on ourselves which, ultimately, results in performance anxiety, lack of confidence, and unhappiness. By stopping the cycle of negative self-talk, we allow ourselves to grow, learn, and evolve into higher performing individuals.
Have you ever been guilty of allowing your inner mean girl to take over and sow seeds of doubt? Under what circumstances did this happen? If you could, what would you say differently to yourself today? How would you turn the tables from negative self-talk to positive self-talk?
Share your thoughts in the comment box below.