What sort of things do you say to yourself when you’re alone? Have you ever noticed that your inner dialogue sounds oddly like a critical parent or friend from your past? Or noticed how quickly your self-evaluations have switched from productive to never ending barrages of self-criticism super quickly? That sneaky little b*$^# telling you all of the terrible things you believe about yourself, talking you out of following your passions, convincing you that your fear is too big to conquer and preventing you from reaching your greatest potential is your self-talk. If you recognize yourself in any or all of the above, then you’ve probably driven yourself crazy with your own negative self-talk at some point in time? Amirite or amirite?
For someone who spent most of her childhood/teenage years in her head, I know firsthand how debilitating negative self-talk can be if left unchecked. I have created stressful situations and imaginary concepts in my head that I knew to be untrue and actually allowed myself to act out these scenarios as I had thought them up. It wasn’t until I became aware of the conversations I was having with myself that I noticed the negative toll/effect it had taken on my reality. It was also one of the leading causes of the depressive state I went through a few years back.
The good news is that you have more power over your mental chatter than you believe and don’t have to continue submitting your sanity to your internal hullabaloo.
Here are 5 things that helped me change my self-talk.
1. IDENTIFY AND ELIMINATE
Like any good recovery or addiction program, the first step and ultimate path to changing your behaviour/conversations is awareness. Admit it, you’ve been pretty crappy to yourself. Now that you’ve gotten that out of the way, we can address the fun stuff! Some of the negative thoughts that run through our minds are buried or masked within our emotions. In order to catch your inner critic in action, you need to get acutely intimate with your thoughts, identify then begin working on eliminating the bad apples from the bunch.
In my case, I tend to fall victim to self-doubt and talk myself out of participating in discussions or doing things that will grow me. My saving grace over the last little while has been Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule technique. Instead of allowing myself to be overcome by feelings of inadequacy, I remind myself that I am better than my excuses and bigger than my so-called fears.
2. POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS, CHANGE YOUR SELF-TALK
You’re probably tired of my sing songs about affirmations and the benefits they provide because I say this in almost every blog post I write. But I’m really trying to drive this point home. Seriously! It’s actually been proven time and time again that repeating positive mantras and encouraging sentiments to yourself has a positive impact on your self-esteem. You can literally encourage, inspire, improve self-confidence and push yourself toward success simply by affirming.
When you catch yourself in negative loops, you can rewire your self-talk through positive affirmations. For example, instead of saying “I can’t do this”, say “I can do this”. You can continue to identify with your shortcomings by saying “I am bad at responding to text messages” OR you can acknowledge that change is required by saying “I need to work on replying to text messages and will put some effort in”. That was some personal shade to myself. At the end of the day, only you know what your self-talk is like and how you can combat it through affirmations of your own. The easiest way to break the pattern in the moment is by interrupting the conversations with positive thinking. Change your script. Say the things you wish someone would have said to you as a child.
3. GET DISCIPLINED
Of course, discipline is a fundamental pillar for any change you want to make in life. In order to change your self-talk, you need to bring a new level of discipline into the picture. Warning: this is easier said than done. Your life is directed by the conversations in your head so you will need to learn to hold yourself accountable by disciplining yourself and your mind to stop the negative self-talk as soon as you witness it. Essentially, teach yourself that it’s okay to feel the fear of doing something and doing it anyway.
4. STOP LISTENING TO THE DEBBIE DOWNERS!
Garbage in, garbage out. I can’t stress how important it is to identify the external factors in your life that may be contributing to your negative perceptions. For instance, your mental state can become toxic by being around people who are negative all the time or simply through poor quality social media feeds. If you are not vigilant enough, you will start believing such inputs and begin adopting these thoughts as your own. In short, be alert to what your negative influences are. If they come from certain friends/family members, then limit your exposure to them as much as you can. Try to avoid discussing your plans with those who are unsupportive of your dreams and your goals and instead surround yourself with the thoughts and actions of those who will empower you.
Reading books and listening to uplifting podcasts of people who are doing extraordinary things has been the best input to help me drive new conversations in my head. I’ll share some of my favourite books/podcasts to date in a blog post soon.
5. BE KINDER TO YOURSELF
You deserve it.
You wouldn’t talk negatively or swear at your biggest inspiration, would you? So start treating and talking to yourself the way you would of those who inspire you. You’ve come so far and you still have so much more growth to go. I remind myself everyday that I AM A BADASS and can achieve anything that I willingly put my mind and effort towards.
So what’s the end goal?
Don’t ask me what success looks like at the end of this because I don’t have a definitive answer for you. I would love to tell you that I’ve reached my ultimate end state but that is far from the truth. In fact, I’m not sure there is a perfect end to this. I’ve managed to change my life and reality drastically by practicing the steps I’ve listed above. I’ve learned to take things one day at a time and acknowledged that my mind and overall development are in working progress.
Have you checked your self-talk lately? Let me know in the comments section below!