COVID-19 UPDATE: my Midtown Manhattan office is currently closed. I am available for online therapy sessions (for NY residents only) via a secure video platform.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and alongside increased awareness of signs and symptoms of possible mental health issues in others, I believe that looking inside at our own personal mental health is a great idea.

How you take care of yourself (self-care is a hot topic these days!) and how you deal with anxiety are important – but how about how you talk to yourself? I don’t necessarily mean how you talk out loud to yourself, but what is your internal voice saying to you? When you make a mistake, do you tell yourself “it’s okay, it happens” or do you get stuck in a cycle of “how you could do that?” and “I should have done better!”?

Perfectionism and self-criticism can be so hard to shake, but speaking kindly to yourself really matters. If you notice that you’re harder on yourself than anyone else, or that you are constantly telling yourself that you really screwed up or that you’re such an idiot, here are 3 ideas for changing your internal voice into a calm, supportive one.

  1. Talk to yourself like you would to a friend. How would you talk to a friend who had not gotten a job, or lost their keys, or felt like they were a failure? Would you yell at them and tell them they were a failure and an embarrassment, or would you listen calmly, reassure gently, and help them break down next steps in small, manageable bites? Now talk to yourself like you would to a friend. Does it feel different? Good.
  2. Find a mantra. A mantra, sometimes known as a slogan or catchphrase, can be really calming when you find yourself spiraling down into negative self-talk. Try to make it something short that you can remember easily. Try taking a conscious deep breath in and out and reciting it out loud (or silently) to yourself, post it around your home or office, or make it the wallpaper on your phone. Don’t know what your mantra can be? Some ideas: Slow, It’ll be okay, This too shall pass. A few mantras that have worked for me at various points have been: Calm, confident, and collected and Everything will be okay. Find what works for you – make it simple but meaningful.
  3. I am good enough. We too often compare ourselves to others, and forget how what we have accomplished is good enough. Sometimes the simple act of reminding yourself that you are good enough is enough to help soften the critical voice and keep moving forward. Know that whatever you are struggling with can be worked on further tomorrow, next week, or in the future – and that right now you are a good enough mother, daughter, student, wife, friend, lover.

I hope these tips were helpful – I’d love to hear some mantras (or other tips) that work for you, feel free to leave me a comment below!

If you’re a woman in the New York City area struggling with perfectionism and self-criticism, and wondering if individual music psychotherapy sessions could help you live a happier life, please contact me directly to schedule a free 20 minute phone call – I look forward to hearing from you!