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22 tips for 2022: How to be kind to yourself and squash your critical inner voice

Image of a person looking lovingly at themselves in the mirror, surrounded by positive affirmations written on sticky notes.
Kristen Uroda for NPR

Everybody has those mean inner gremlins pointing out their flaws and talking them out of their good ideas. They make up the hypercritical mental chorus we call negative self-talk.

Next time you notice you're caught in a cycle of self-criticism, ask yourself: "Would I talk to my best friend this way?"

We'll go ahead and wager that the answer is NO.

For you, maybe negative self-talk manifests in obsessing over the teeny tiny hiccup in an otherwise flawless presentation or talking down to yourself about how you never accomplish anything. (For the record, that's just not true.)

When we beat ourselves up over mistakes or talk ourselves out of great ideas, we're not giving ourselves the grace and care that we would give others. So try practicing some self-compassion and replacing that negative inner voice with a kinder one.

"We're talking about using the same kind and gentle language and approaches that we do with the other people we love in our lives — with ourselves," says psychologist Joy Harden Bradford. "Because we're also people that we hopefully love, right?"

Next time you notice you're being mean to yourself, rather than being your own worst critic, try being your own best friend.


Here's more on how to break the cycle of negative self-talk.

22 tips for 2022 is edited and curated by Dalia Mortada, Arielle Retting, Janet W. Lee, Beck Harlan, Beth Donovan and Meghan Keane. This tip comes from an episode of Life Kit hosted by Keisha "TK" Dutes and produced by Andee Tagle.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Keisha "TK" Dutes