Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
I heard a really great quote this week from Winston Churchill. When asked during World War II why he was not cutting spending on the arts, he allegedly replied, "Then what are we fighting for?"
"Fabulous", I thought, "that is the basis for a whole blog post on the importance of the arts."
But wait...when I Googled 'Churchill quote art funding' to find the exact wording, it seems that wonderful quote though it is, it was never actually said, even though it pops up all over the place as being amongst the authentic Winston's Words of Wisdom.
I saw my great blog post idea turn to dust, until I started thinking about all those others things we believe to be true, especially about ourselves and our situations, and often with less evidence than we find with 30 seconds of Googling.
Those things like:
These negative thoughts pop into our minds on a regular basis and because we are saying them to ourselves, they must be true; after all, we wouldn't lie to ourselves.
Really? And your evidence for that is...?
Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, said that 80% of our thinking time contains some element of negativity, looking for problems to solve. The problem arises when instead of looking at the negativity as just an opinion, we take it as the truth and, even worse, as damning self criticism.
Instead of accepting those thoughts blindly, why not just look on them as opinions or ideas which need proven before you agree with them?
I have written before about my very strong belief that I was no good at maths. This belief was, to me, as true as breathing. And all based on one throwaway comment made when I was 11 and which ignored all the evidence of the subsequent 30 odd years. It probably sounds ridiculous to you that I could have been so blinkered.
But just have a think - what negative thing do you believe about yourself? And based on what evidence? For example, do you really 'always' get things wrong, or was it just that once which, yes, may have been a bit of an embarrassment but hardly the foundation on which to build your whole life.
So how can you stop believing your negative thoughts?
Catch the thought and check the evidence carefully before making such a sweeping judgement on yourself. (See my blog on Catch It, Check It, Change It)
Regard your chitter chattering mind as a 'trying to be helpful but rather over anxious/over critical' neighbour. When it starts up on its' routine, just say "thank you for your input, but I've got it handled".
If you are a visual person, you can imagine stuffing all your negative thoughts into a fireworks tube, lighting it and watching them explode into lovely colours across the sky and out of your life! (Come on, so close to 5th November, I couldn't let a fireworks reference pass!)
However you deal with it, just remember, not everything we think or hear is true.
If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you in dealing with your Inner Critic, check out how we could work together and get in touch.