The way we talk to ourselves is often harsh, critical, and not very loving. I’d guess that most of us don’t talk to ourselves the way we would talk to a friend (would you agree?). When we make a mistake, it might be automatic to think, “you suck!” rather than, “you’re human and it’s okay!”.

I want to share a quick tool to interrupt those automatic critical thoughts we have from time to time. When you notice that you’re talking down to yourself or beating yourself up over something, try asking yourself this simple question: “What else?”

When we ask what else, we are inviting other, more loving thoughts in. We are reminding ourselves that there is more than the criticism and negative self-talk we so often mistake as a truth. We are recognizing that what we tell ourselves in a harsh moment isn’t ALL of who we are, and that there are other possibilities. Here are some examples:

“I’m terrible at talking with people.” (What else?) “I’m also good at being supportive.”
“I can’t believe I messed that up.” (What else?) “It’s okay – I don’t have to be perfect.”
“I’m a crummy partner.” (What else?) “I helped my partner this morning.”
“I’m never going to be successful.” (What else?) “I work really hard.”

Asking this simple question doesn’t change everything, but it encourages us to *pause* before diving into the deep end of self-criticism. When we can interrupt the pattern of automatic negative thoughts, we start building our muscle of introducing more self-compassionate and supportive thoughts, instead. From here, we have more freedom to think differently, and hopefully more lovingly, about ourselves during moments of challenge.

What might you ask “what else” about? How might it help you shift a negative thought you’re having in the moment? Let me know how it goes!