Negative self-talk has been a prominent topic in many discussions with my clients. Negative self-talk stems from limiting beliefs, poor confidence, unidentified or low self-worth and judgement.
Negative self-talk can take on many forms, but the way I see it the most:
- looking in the mirror and berating the body
- not celebrating efforts and success
- deeming a job well done “not good enough”
- leaving a conversation wondering if something you said was “wrong”
- questioning self-judgement and decision(s)
The thing about negative self-talk is that we weren’t born this way. We didn’t come out of the womb berating our bodies, deeming our journey through the birth canal not good enough or questioning our judgement to leave the womb. We entered into this world full of curiosity, wonderment, and a hunger for life. Through most of our early years, we live without inhibition. We inherit our negative self-talk and the voice inside our head; it was never ours to begin with. The way we speak to ourselves, likely similar, repetitive thoughts and ideas, was given to use as we grew into children and young adults.
So, my question for you is, how do you speak to yourself?
- Do you speak encouragingly or discouragingly?
- Do you celebrate your effort and success or do you think of all the ways you could have done better?
- Do you shame and guilt yourself for something you might have said wrong, when in fact there was nothing wrong about what you said?
You cannot love thy neighbor until you love thyself. You cannot pour from an empty cup until you fill your own. You cannot fully love the people you want to love and treat them with respect until you do the same for yourself.
Whatever your version of negative self-talk looks like: the mirror, the job not good enough, questioning your judgement – give yourself some grace and realize that you’re doing the best you can. And if you can do better, then do better.
TIPS and TRICKS:
- Presence and Awareness – you can’t be aware of your negative self-talk if you are not present or aware of when it happens.
- Keep track – take an entire day to write down your thoughts in real time – observe the ratio between encouraging vs. discouraging thoughts.
- “Watch Your Words” – a quick and easy statement to remind yourself that you are not the voice inside your head and you do not have to believe everything that voice tells you.
- “I hate my stomach.” Watch your words. “I love my smile, it’s bright and nice. My stomach nourished, held and developed my babies and it’s a goddamn blessing.”
- “I should have spent more time on section B of that presentation, I don’t think they understood what I was talking about, they looked confused.” Watch your words. “I spent a lot of time preparing this presentation. I presented it in a way that was clear, concise and well thought out. I gave all the employees my contact information so if they have further questions and/or didn’t understand, they have the means to reach out. I did everything I could and it was enough. Their look of confusion was not a reflection on me as an individual.”
Ultimately, watch your words. You have the ability to change your habitual thoughts and negative self-talk, it will take practice, patience and effort. The way we speak to ourselves is the most powerful tool we have. Continue to nourish your mind, heart and soul with communication that allows you to grow and flourish and not shrink into a state of smallness.
Treat yourself with the same, if not more, respect than you give to thy neighbor. You deserve it.