Updated: Jul 6
Are you aware that you talk to yourself all day long? No, I don't mean the mental chatter about the activities and chores you need to remember throughout the day. That’s a form of self-talk too. What I’m referring to are the things you say to yourself on a regular basis about yourself or your capabilities; and more importantly, the tone in which you say them.
It's been said that we have 60,000 thoughts a day and that the majority of those thoughts are the same ones over and over. It makes sense then that we should be aware of the kinds of thoughts that are going on in our heads; what we’re saying to ourselves day after day after day - right?
When you make a mistake, do you berate yourself angrily? Do you put yourself down or call yourself 'stupid' or some other derogatory name? When you have a hard time doing something or making the 'right' decision in your life, do you bemoan what a “worthless” person you are and conclude that you’ll never do anything right? Or is the negativity more subtle as in not giving yourself the credit for a job well done or accepting a well-deserved compliment?
Negative self-talk can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem, especially if it’s a big part of your daily life. As you continue these self-belittling thoughts over and over, in time, you will begin to actually believe them! Your thoughts shape your beliefs. Once your beliefs are set, you will act as if they are true and they will become your reality (real or NOT).
Most often these messages began as statements made by the adults in your life when you were a child. They may have said something negative about you when your actions displeased them, or perhaps they had a habit of saying unkind things even when you didn’t deserve them. As painful as these experiences can be, it is even worse when you pick up where they left off and keep repeating the same negative messages to yourself over and over and have turned them into beliefs.
Most of my clients aren’t even aware that they have negative self-talk. There are surprised when I, in conversations, reflect back to them what they’ve said, in passing, reflecting their inner thoughts. They seem embarrassed when they are ‘discovered’ and I ask them about it.
The good news is that you can change your self-talk any time you want. It can be some work but it is quite simple. You have to get conscious and learn how to become aware of the tone of your messages. Then, from a place of conscious intention, you replace the negative, defeating, damaging thoughts with empowering, uplifting and encouraging ones.
Try these simple steps for starters:
1) Develop awareness of your self-talk. It may take practice, but if you keep “listening” into your inner voice, you’ll begin to notice when you talk negatively to yourself. Set a reminder a few times a day and when it goes off, check to see what you had been thinking about yourself in that moment or moments prior. You can even ask friends or someone close to you to help you become more conscious of them and I can assure you, they will love to help with this :-).
2) Challenge the negative messages. When you notice yourself saying something negative such as, “You’re such a screw-up, you can’t do anything right” – stop yourself and challenge that belief. Is that really true? Are you really a screw-up? Maybe you don’t get some things right, but do you ALWAYS mess up? Probably not. Notice how exaggerated your negative self-talk can get.
3) Replace the negative messages with positive messages. When you realize you’re saying unkind and untrue things to yourself, simply turn it around in your mind. Using the above example, you might say, “Wow, that’s not true at all! I do plenty of things right. It’s true I make mistakes, but so does everyone. I’m a good person and I try my best. That’s good enough for me.”
You can also create a list of affirmations that directly correlate to the negative self-talk you become aware of. Every day spend some time affirming the opposite, empowering belief to yourself. Make it a game. Create an acronym with the first letter of each attributes you want to instill in yourself - that way you can remember what they are and you can recite them when you're driving, in the shower, doing chores... the more often the better; after all, you've been rehearsing the negative ones for a long time haven't you?
Over time, your efforts will pay off in the form of stronger self-esteem and respect for yourself and your capabilities. It will take a little time to completely stop the negative habit you have developed, but the more you work at turning your self-talk in a more positive direction, the better you’ll feel about yourself.
And life gets better as you get better with yourself!!!
P.S. If you're struggling with self-talk that doesn't support you in living the life that you truly desire, I can help. I have completely changed my inner messages. When you think better you do better and when you do better you live better. You deserve inner strength so you can create the life you truly want.
I've opened up my schedule to fit in a few complimentary "Awesome Life" Strategy Sessions (Valued at $135). If you'd like to take advantage of this, click on the link below to book a time on my calendar. I book only a handful of these now and then, so use the link below to request yours so we can chat about what's possible for your life. It may just be the best call you've ever made! :-)
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