The power of self-talk is an incredible thing. Who else has our attention 24/7 besides… ourselves? No one!
Is your inner monologue a cheerleader? Or is it your own personal “shitty committee?”
How do you talk to yourself? If you try something new and fail, do you say: “Oh man I am so stupid. Why would I even try something new? I suck at new things!” OR “Well, I tried something new and I’m not very great at it yet, but I feel good about the fact that I put myself out there!”
If you are anything like me, you are probably pretty hard on yourself. I have found that I say things to myself that I would NEVER dream of saying to another person. Think about it!!! Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought “God I am so gross.” Or “Damn I am so fat.” Or have you made a mistake and immediately thought “I am so stupid! I am such a loser!” or gone through a break up and thought: “Of course they don’t like me! Why would they? I’m always alone!” Probably. A lot of that is old messaging from when we are very young. If we were raised thinking that we aren’t enough…not good enough…not worthwhile, then it makes sense that as adults we would believe all of those negative messages that we received when we were little.
As a mom and a business owner, I have PLENTY of opportunity to judge myself harshly. I have so many dear friends that are also really incredible mothers, although, I have never heard one of them say that. On the contrary, most moms, it seems, feel like they are doing a pretty mediocre job raising their kids. WE ARE SO HARD ON OURSELVES!!! Social media certainly doesn’t help! How many times have you looked at Instagram and ended up feeling like you just aren’t measuring up to the rest of the moms out there? Yeah…I know. That comparison is a real bummer…especially when we compare ourselves to images that just. aren’t. real.
Guess what? Negative self-talk doesn’t serve us. It doesn’t make us better, more motivated or more efficient. Science shows that it actually does the opposite. Negative self-talk causes depression and is even shown to have long term health issues.
So, what do we do about it? How do we break the negative self-talk cycle?
Become aware of the Negative Self Talk
We can’t change anything if we aren’t aware of it. The first step is creating that awareness. Listen to yourself. When you are more conscious of your negative thinking, you start to realize just how often those thoughts can pop up. It might take some time to analyze this, but once you understand what triggers your pessimistic thoughts and why, it will be much easier to fix the problem. Listening to yourself is the first step before saying anything at all.
Replace Negative thoughts with Positive Affirmations.
Instead of fixating on a bad thought, replace it with a positive affirmation. Positive affirmations are positive statements that are said with confidence and perceived truth. By saying them, we are addressing something negative in our lives in a healthy way by putting a positive spin on it. You have to fully believe the words that are coming out of your mouth and use phrases that you know will steer you to a better outlook. Don’t just say, “I am a nice person,” but say things like: “I am kind and caring and thoughtful and I love myself.” When you get more specific, it will help you see the picture much more clearly.
Treat yourself like you would treat a cherished friend
You probably have heard this before, but I am saying it again: Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. It’s really sad how destructive we can be to ourselves when we would never dare say half those thoughts out loud, or to our own friends. Every time you start feeling like you are talking down to yourself, try to think about if you would say those things to your friend. If the answer is no, then you need to stop what you are thinking and change it to something more positive. According to The Huffington Post, Kristin Neff has conducted research for the past decade finding that people who are self-compassionate are less likely to be, “depressed, anxious, insecure and stressed, and are much more likely to be happy, resilient, optimistic and motivated to change themselves and their lives for the better.”
Use Possible Thinking
When you are constantly hearing negative thoughts, it might be hard for you to believe all the positive self-talk that you are trying to tell yourself. Instead, use possible thinking. According to The Huffington Post, psychologist Tamar E. Chansky, PhD and author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety said, “We feel a lot of pressure to turn it all around and make it positive,” Chansky says, “But research has found that when you’re down and out and force yourself to say positive things to yourself, you end up feeling worse.” Instead, be more realistic with yourself. Try having more neutral thoughts about the situation and bringing more facts to the table. If you know you have been negative at work lately, acknowledge it, be honest with yourself about the changes you need to make, and do it. Turning that negative thought into a neutral stance of understanding will make you aware of the changes you need to make, which will make you feel better because you know that you are trying.
FOCUS ON THE PRESENT
THE PAST IS OVER, BOO! When you focus on the here and now, you will have a better chance of not being negative about yourself because you are not thinking about past mistakes. By constantly thinking about the past, we make ourselves feel worse because there is no changing past events. When I start to think about my past mistakes, I try to always use this saying to make myself stop, “By thinking of this now, is this going to change the past?” Of course, the answer is no. The mind can become really irrational when you let it run totally wild. I like to say: “You mind is NOT your friend! Your mind is an evil bitch!” Just because we think something does NOT mean that it is true! At ALL! Sometimes we need to take a step back and come back to reality to understand exactly what we are thinking and why. Let the past be in the past; embrace your mistakes and look forward to your future instead. Additionally, our brain is unable to know if trauma is happening in real time, or if we are just remembering it. Each time we remember a traumatic or painful experience, our brain thinks it is happening again. So- work toward releasing the past and being free from things that are impossible to change.
Get rid of outside influences!
It’s hard to get rid of the negative voices inside your head when you are surrounded by people who are pessimistic. Once you start to hear those phrases all the time, it’s hard to not agree with them. Sometimes you don’t even notice the negative until someone brings it up and your positive outlook on things start to crumble down. While there are a lot of ways for you to deal with negative people, it might be best for you to simply get rid of them. People who are verbally negative all the time are most likely internally negative, too. People like this can be toxic and you don’t need that in your life when you are trying to better yourself.
The worst outside offender (as I mentioned before) is social media! Next time you are on Facebook or Instagram, do a deep dive on who you are following. Are they making you feel uplifted? Happy? Inspired? If not- do some pruning!
I know that breaking a self-sabotage cycle is hard! This is something that I work on with myself every day. I will tell you, it is almost impossible to truly love someone else and give love freely when you do not love yourself.
When I am feeling down about myself, or I am feeling bummed out about something in the past that I have no power to change, I think to myself: “Do I like where I am today? Am I okay with my life?” If the answer is yes, then I feel more gentle about the things in my past that I find myself regretting. If any of those things went differently, I probably wouldn’t be here today, now would I? All of those experiences led me to where I am in this very moment. And ALL of those experiences, especially the really hard times, led to huge periods of growth.
So, let’s try it. To start, be aware of what you are saying about yourself. Is it kind or unkind? Are you saying these things out loud? What are you hoping to gain when you say negative things about yourself to someone else?
Start by being aware, and then start replacing some of those negative statements with things that are more positive and loving…to you.
LOVE YOURSELF! Tell yourself TODAY even one thing that you are proud of yourself about today, right this second. (okay I’m waiting…)
I am proud of you for reading this and being willing to grow and evolve. Be GOOD TO YOURSELF! ☺️