Millennial Money: Learn – Don’t Run – From Your Inner Critic

I can be very mean to myself. My inner critic criticizes my actions like declaring a political attack, with claims that are harsh, exaggerated, and often inaccurate. My ad will confirm that I’m stupid with money, bad at decision-making, and that I’m working on quitting – all really supported by your ad.

I’m not the only one talking about myself with rubbish. Most people encounter negative self-talk at some point, and it often appears in the practice of New York City financial therapist Aja Evans. Even financial therapists serve themselves severe burns. “The inner monologue is brutal,” says Evans.

Personal finance is a major subject to judge inner critics, as it can be emotionally loaded and involves major decisions. Learn to recognize this sound and paraphrase its message.

Why should you acknowledge this voice

Inner criticism can be limited when they become self-fulfilling prophecies, says Lindsey Brian Bodvin, a financial therapist in Ann Arbor, Michigan and author of Solving Financial Anxiety. For example, why try to obsess over shopping if you have already labeled yourself as an overspender?

Or say your inner voice insists that you will never understand investing. Brian Bodvin says this statement could line up in the next negative thinking loop: Because you’re already assuming you can’t absorb investing, the idea of ​​opening a retirement account might scare you. So you don’t set one up or learn to do so. Then, well, you don’t have retirement savings or pick up any knowledge about investing. So you keep feeling like you’ll never understand it.

This type of snails bolsters the initial unhelpful claim, says Brian Bodvin.

How to identify inappropriate self-criticism

To address excessive critical thinking, you must first recognize it. The fictional term for these ideas is “cognitive distortions”. in Harvard Medical School articleDr. Peter Grinspoon describes them as “internal mental filters or prejudices that add to our misery, fuel our anxiety, and make us feel bad about ourselves.”

Or consider this simpler definition of cognitive distortion, from Bryan-Podvin: “An unhelpful or insincere idea.”

Look for clues to identify cognitive distortions. According to the Harvard article, this can include rating, such as calling yourself a bad saver, and fortune telling, such as insisting you won’t make much money at all. Watch for absolute terms, too, like “always” and “never,” says Brian Bodvin.

What do you do with your inner criticism?

When it comes to quelling these criticisms — or changing any behavior — Evans says, “Building awareness and tracking are important.” That’s why people log calories to eat healthy foods, for example, and Spending Tracking to save money.

Likewise, Evans says acknowledgment of unfair claims is key to their contention. Perhaps in this moment, she simply says, “There’s an inner talk again, of being so cruel,” she suggests.

If it’s too difficult to notice your cognitive distortion in the moment, she says it’s a good idea to write down or talk about your feelings later.

Alex Melcomian, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of the Center for Financial Psychology in Los Angeles, says one way to do this is to identify frequent “anxiety sessions.” Take these times to think about the financial challenges that worry you and how you tend to judge yourself about them.

Or associate this reflex time with an existing habit, such as a daily walk, says Brian Bodvin. Another way: Identify when that inner voice tends to scream the loudest and move on, she says. For example, if checking your spending is always stressing you out, “Maybe five minutes before you log into that budget app, spend some time lovingly challenging that inner critic,” she suggests.

Whether you silently note your feelings, write them down or speak them out loud to yourself or a friend, Evans says, “the key is to be brutally honest with yourself.” Examine what your voice says and how you usually react, as well as the impact of these criticisms on your life, she says.

Then, brainstorm activities that would normally bring you back to a more neutral place when you’re feeling overwhelmed, she says. Perhaps running outside, calling a friend, or scrolling through pictures of dogs might make you feel better. Aim to tap into these coping mechanisms the next time your inner monologue gets the best of you.

Ways to learn from your inner criticism

“The goal is not to completely get rid of the inner critic,” Melcomian says, adding that doing so would likely be stressful and counterproductive.

Try to contain the sound rather than remove it, says Melcomian. Think of your mind as a house and the critic as your roommate. “You don’t have to sit next to us and talk into our ear,” he says.

And like your roommate who pays the rent and does the dishes, the inner critic can be valuable. Learn about his very harsh claims, and you better learn from them. “Ask which part of what the inner critic says is true,” Melcomian says.

Take the example of investing. Assuming you’ll never understand that investing is extreme, but maybe the topic confuses you. Use this bit of truth as a catalyst to learn more about investing in a beginner-friendly way.

By recognizing and examining these unfair claims, they can become more beneficial and less harmful. “Once we start paying attention, we start to get some of our strength back,” Melcomian says.

This column was provided to the Associated Press by personal finance site NerdWallet. The content is for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute investment advice. Laura McMullen is an editor at NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @lauraemcmullen.

NerdWallet: Track Your Monthly Expenses: The First Step to Money Success

Harvard Medical School: How to recognize and tame cognitive distortions

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