Let me preface this with a disclosure: what you are about to read is a PRACTICE, and that means you must continue to work on this for a very long time, or perhaps forever. Loving yourself is a journey; it is not a destination you reach only to move on to the next shiny thing.
I'll remind you of this again later!
First, let's clarify what 'self-talk' is. This is your inner voice. Your mental belief system.
We use self-talk constantly, no matter what we're doing. It's that voice that tells you, 'You've got this!' or, 'My hair looks fabulous today!'
But I'm willing to bet the voice you hear says things more along the lines of, 'You're so stupid/fat/ugly', or 'You will never have what you want', and 'Why do you think you deserve to be happy?'
We are conditioned to believe certain things because we repeat them over and over in our heads.
How do these negative thoughts get in there in the first place? Maybe someone criticized you when you were young and it stuck. Maybe people tell you terrible things on a regular basis and over time, you just got used to believing them about yourself. Maybe you have no idea and will never actually know!
No matter what happened to plant those seeds, the important part is recognizing it and taking the steps to unlearn and reverse those beliefs.
A good friend of mine recently applied for a new job. But what she told me was, 'I'm applying for a job I'll never get'. When I asked why she thought that, she said, 'I'm not qualified'. This job would require the skills she's learned during her entire professional career, but it was not in the same field she's always worked in, so she instantly doubted her ability to perform.
The things we tell ourselves in our minds will always manifest in real life.
Why? Because our brains are so strong, and we have to choose whether that will work for us or against us. We have the power to create anything we believe if we believe it strongly enough.
This quote is one of my absolute favorites. It reminds me that if I'm focusing on the bad, then I'm inviting more of that into my life.
All of my energy is put into whatever thoughts I'm feeding it.
So if I'm focused on the positive outcomes, I'm more inclined to be creative and excited as I work through obstacles.
If I choose to focus on the negative, I likely wouldn't finish anything at all, because 'what's the point?'
Here are some steps to take when you find yourself lost in negative self-talk:
Replace the thought with something positive or neutral. Not to be mistaken for toxic positivity, try inserting a possibility in place of a doubt. Ex. Turn 'I'll never get this job!' Into 'I have a lot of skills they're seeking and I'm confident in my qualifications. I won't know until I try!'
Stand in front of a mirror and say your negative thought out loud. It's really difficult to look at yourself and say something that makes you feel bad, isn't it? Now stand in front of the mirror and compliment yourself. Even if it feels awkward, I bet you'll feel some relief and even crack a smile!
Question the thought. Ask yourself if you have evidence of whatever you're thinking. Keep asking yourself 'WHY' until you realize you have no reason for it. Then acknowledge your awesomeness.
Ask yourself if you'd talk to your friend the same way. Because no, you would never, and we need to stop treating ourselves like we're the exception to that rule.
Practice saying positive affirmations. Before you scoff and write this one off as pointless and dumb, let me remind you that you when you engage in negative self-talk, over and over and over, you are literally practicing affirmations. CONSTANTLY. They just aren't positive. Guess what else? Positive affirmations are more difficult to practice because they take a lot more work to do...kind of like daily exercise or healthy eating. But once you get in the habit of saying them, you will begin to actually believe them...exactly like you did with the negative ones you've been practicing your whole life. Try writing some down on sticky notes and leave them hanging where you will see them on a regular basis. Like your bathroom mirror or your work computer. If you're consistently reminding yourself of the good, you're going to leave less space for the bad.
The way we talk to ourselves singlehandedly defines the outcomes of everything we do in our lives! Even when we're trying to invest in ourselves by eating better or walking everyday or meditating or journaling, if we're speaking badly of everything, we will never recognize the work we're doing to heal.
Positive self-talk is a celebration, and life is a lot more fun when we're celebrating!
The next time you find yourself saying something critical in your head, pause for a moment and try to incorporate one of these defense mechanisms into your thoughts. Keep practicing, and remember that this is a lifelong learning experience, not something to master and move on from. You are not any better or worse off than the person beside you, so give yourself a little grace and find some relief in believing you're a magical unicorn kind of human!
Share with me some of the struggles you face practicing positive self-talk, or how much fun you're having with the process!