Hello SOTGC community,
I’m a pretty positive gal by nature. I try to find the best in every situation and person (including me). But, earlier this week, I found myself in a negativity nosedive.
I had arrived at the airport, heading out of town for a four-day work trip, when I realized I’d left my cell phone at home. My inner dialogue spiraled out of control within seconds. It went a little something like this:
“You are SO stupid. Do you think you could you go on just one trip without forgetting something? Why are you such an airhead? You waited until the last minute to pack, you’re running late, and now you don’t have your phone. People must think you’re an absolute ditz! It’s a miracle you’ve made it this far in your career. You’re never going to achieve your future goals.”
Silencing the Gremlin: Muzzle The Inner Critic
We all have a gremlin that rears her ugly head from time to time. She’s that inner critic that undermines your self-confidence with feelings of shame, embarrassment, fear, and insecurity, just to name a few.
The good news is you have the power to shut her down faster than you can say Mogwai.
In his book Learned Optimism, positive psychologist Martin Seligman shares a simple process called the ABCDE Method to help you challenge your negative self-talk and redirect your thought process when things go sideways. Here’s how it worked for me:
A = Adversity (or Activating Event). What was the initial event or situation that went wrong?
I forgot my phone at home.
B = Belief System. What is your interpretation of the situation? What is the story you’re telling yourself about the event and the meaning behind it?
“Typical! You’re such an idiot. How can anyone be so scatterbrained?”
C = Consequences. Based on your belief system, how did you act or behave? How did you feel?
I was angry and embarrassed. I worried about what my colleagues would think of me.
D = Dispute. Interrupt your habitual thought pattern and debate yourself. What are other possible arguments? Are your beliefs based on reality? What would you say to someone else in your situation?
“Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself. It was a simple mistake that can be easily resolved with overnight delivery. Don’t let this one setback ruin your whole day. Your reputation and future success are not at stake here.
E = Energization. What is the result of completing the previous steps of the process? How has your energy changed due to challenging your own negative beliefs…and then letting go?
I was able to find the humor of the events. I reminded myself that I have many wonderful gifts and talents regardless of my occasional forgetfulness.
Trust me, this process works. So, the next time your gremlins starts whispering sour nothings in your ear, practice the ABCDE method. Before you know it this technique will be second nature and you’ll be on your way to a happier, more positive you.
Do you have a different technique to silence your inner gremlin? Please share it below.