Marie Wold talked about dealing with your inner critic on her podcast, Grind and Be Grateful.

By Julia Guerra
July 05, 2019
Instagram/@marieewold

Marie Wold isn't afraid to admit when she feels insecure. In a recent episode of her podcast Grind and Be Grateful, the 24-year-old fitness influencer opened up about what it means to be insecure, her top three insecurities, and three ways she's learned to overcome self-doubt.

Wold defined insecurity as a lack of confidence that usually stems from past experiences. When you experience or witness a negative belief—whether it involves yourself or other people—that negative belief can become internalized and ingrained in your mind, she explained.

For example, Wold said she can still recall a "so-called friend" in elementary school who made a negative comment about her body at the time. "Just in passing—one comment," she said. "I still, to this day, remember how inadequate and unworthy I felt at that moment."

Wold said she's developed three main insecurities throughout her life: She's self-conscious about her introverted personality, her health condition, linear scleroderma en coup de sabre (an autoimmune disease that causes abnormalities on the skin and indentations on the bones and muscles), and her cellulite. (Related: This Plus-Size Model Is Determined to Stop Seeing Her Cellulite As Ugly)

Even though these insecurities break her confidence sometimes, Wold said she's found three effective, actionable strategies to quiet her inner critic whenever it comes out.

After years of working on herself and practicing these strategies, Wold said she's come to a place where her insecurities may still exist, but they no longer control her life. "When it does pop up, I'm equipped to move through it and bounce back quickly, and I feel a sense of freedom around it," she explained.

Here are Wold's tips for conquering your insecurities:

Call It Out

The first step is to fully recognize your insecurity and call it out, said Wold. What is it, when do you feel it, and where do you feel it?

"When you're in your head and feeling really insecure about something, I want you to literally think to yourself, 'I am feeling insecure about blank and I feel it in my blank,'" she explained. For instance, if you feel insecure about public speaking, acknowledge where you feel the tension in your body during those self-conscious moments. Do your underarms start sweating? Does your throat clam up? Does your chest get tight? (Here are some anxiety-reducing solutions for common worry traps.)

It's normal to want to hide from your insecurities rather than face them head-on. But recognizing self-doubt the moment you feel it can help you grow as a person, says Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D., a neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University. (Dr. Hafeez was not involved in Wold's podcast episode.)

Plus, calling out your insecurities gets you out of your headspace and encourages you to be present, explains Hafeez. In turn, this helps you gain clarity about your insecurities.

Once you identify your insecurity, it might be helpful to give it a name, too, suggested Wold.

"You could say, 'I'm being materialistic me,' 'I'm being narcissistic me,' 'I'm being ageist me,'" adds Dr. Hafeez. "If you recognize yourself in those moments, you can make a vow that you will be more honest the next time."

Also helpful: Picture your inner critic as a "separate entity" from yourself, said Wold. "You can picture [your inner critic] as an inner mean girl, like, she could look like Regina George if you want her to, or the little cartoon version of Lizzie McGuire. Or you can picture it as an iMessage thread with your inner critic as the other person." (Related: I Finally Shifted My Negative Self Talk, But the Journey Wasn't Pretty)

When you visualize your insecurity—and put a face to the name, so to speak—you can then separate yourself from the negative thoughts and beliefs."You can decide who you are versus who you're not," said Wold.

Stand Up to Your Inner Critic

"When you are standing up to the inner critic, you are fighting back. You are re-establishing what your truth truly is, instead of [letting the inner critic] just run the show," explained Wold.

However, standing up to your inner critic doesn't mean fighting false beliefs with more false beliefs. In other words, you don't have to lie to yourself just to gain confidence. The key is to stand up to your inner bully with statements that are just as supportive and encouraging as they are true to the situation, said Wold.

For example, Wold said she recently attended an event where she didn't know anybody. As soon as she started feeling insecure about being introverted and talking to new people, Wold told herself, "I'm so proud of myself for coming to this event. I'll probably take a little time to settle in, but there's nothing wrong with that. And once I talk to someone new, this will feel easier."

Rather than put on the false face of a social butterfly, Wold was honest with herself about the insecurity, and she found a positive step forward to help relieve the pressure of the situation. (Here's how to overcome social anxiety and actually enjoy time with friends.)

"This is one of the best routes to combating negative self-talk: replacing it with something better and more constructive," says Dr. Hafeez. "It's a matter of changing the tape you play in your brain."

Practice New Beliefs

Insecurities are learned beliefs. That means you can unlearn them, too, said Wold—and Dr. Hafeez agrees. "Part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is about creating a new 'tape' that we play in our mind, and replacing old (negative) thought patterns with new (positive) thought patterns," she explains.

This requires you to go outside of your comfort zone and do the things that scare you or test your "security," adds Dr. Hafeez (like talking to new people at an event where you don't know anyone). That way, when you succeed, a new belief can start to ingrain itself in your mind. (Related: Tips to Build Mental Strength from Pro Runner Kara Goucher)

Of course, this is usually easier said than done. Insecurities are negative beliefs, but they also exist as a defense mechanism to protect you from getting hurt, notes Michael Alcee, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist based in Tarrytown, New York. "This critic closes down creative space for new possibilities to emerge and thus prevents us from truly healing from insecurities," he explains.

So if you ever find yourself struggling to practice these strategies, remember that you aren't obligated to eliminate insecurity as soon as you identify it. As Dr. Alcee says, these practices open up the mental space you need to better understand yourself, your actions, and what your future self can look like.

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