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21 May 2021

Do negative thoughts affect your self-confidence or happiness?

It’s getting to the point of the trimester where you’re receiving feedback on your assignments and starting to focus on revision for exams and final assessments. With all this to manage in addition to the other areas of your life, you may be starting to feel a little overwhelmed or stressed.

When pressure is mounting, it’s common to doubt your abilities or give in to negative thoughts. This is called the ‘inner critic’ – and it can become pretty damaging if you let it take over your mindset. Is this something you’re susceptible to?

How does the inner critic work?

Everyone has an inner critic. It often lurks in the back of our minds and only comes to the fore when we’re vulnerable or under pressure.

In its most benign form, our inner critic can motivate us to strive and achieve greater success, whether for academic, sporting or personal goals. But at its most destructive, it can be vicious and exhausting – you may be bombarded by persistent negative thoughts or internal name-calling like:

It can be really hard to ignore these thoughts, especially as they often stem from early childhood messages and experiences. Over time, you can make these negative thoughts seem almost normal without any justification.

Can I turn my inner critic off?

When your inner critic is at its most vocal or dominant, it can be hard to think about anything else. Some people try to silence it in ways that are equally destructive – like substance abuse or other forms of self-harm – just to find some respite from the negativity.

Fortunately, there’s more constructive ways to turn down the volume of your inner critic. Try these strategies to quieten your mind and feel more positive as you focus on study or other parts of your life:

Inner critic

Balanced view

‘I’m an idiot’ ‘I’m finding this task hard to understand but this doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I have passed other units and assignments.’
‘I can’t do this’ ‘Although it’s hard, I’ll get better with practice, like I did last time.’

Expert help is here if you need it

If none of these tips seem to help or you’re worried about how you’re coping, please reach out:

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