Have you ever heard the saying, “Be careful of what you say about yourself, because you are listening”? The truth is what we say about ourselves, has a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves, our surroundings, our lives and the future. What we choose to say about ourselves reflects a deeper subconscious belief about how we feel about our lives. Life tends to follow our thoughts, scary and fascinating at the same time, right? Statements like, “oh, I’m not good at that,” “I’m so overweight,” “I can’t do anything right,” “Nobody can help me,” “I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work,” and so on… I have heard them all and a lot more during my conversations with people. The truth is you are right. If you believe that no one can help you or that you are not good at something or whatever you want to believe you will in fact, believe. The human brain is very smart when you create negative feelings about yourself or your ability, you will put yourself in a mindset of recalling negative outcomes, fears, and past failures, hence reconditioning and supporting your negative statement, many times leading you to fail without even trying. Negative self-talk is disempowering and highlights our shortcomings, so how can we change it?
1. Instead of allowing our negative self-talk to control our thinking and crippling us from seeing and becoming our ideal selves it is crucial to get in a state of mind that I like to call, “An attitude of Gratitude.” I have found that a Gratitude Journal has always been of great benefit and produces great results. It trains your brain to start thinking and focusing about the positives in your life. Start by stating 3 things that you are grateful for today. It does not matter how small you think the example is—if is important, write it down. Think about those things throughout the day. After practicing for a month you will start to recognize when the negative thoughts sneak up, because they will feel heavy on your mind and not a part of the new positive self-talk you are trying to create. When this comes up, journal them down and get them out of your head, next I like to write next to them 3-5 reasons why that negative thought is NOT true and what positive thought you will use instead to replacing it.
2. Most negative talk is in fact self-hypnosis, it is a cycle. In order to get to the other side of the spectrum (positive self-talk) we must practice it daily. At first it might feel odd or that you are lying to yourself, but that is because you have practiced this type of negativity for so long that you have come to believe it. The same can be said about positive self-talk, the longer and more diligent you are at noticing and stopping yourself when you are about to put down yourself, the more you will be able to replace doubt with belief, and the easier it will become. Try practicing seeing yourself as a winner or have a motto you say to yourself throughout the day such as, “I approve of myself just the way I am, I love myself.” Throughout the day means: when you wake up, while getting ready for the day, on your way to work, during lunch, on your way home, at dinner, while getting ready for bed, while in bed. No this is not too much, if you think how many hundreds if not thousands of times negative thoughts come in our mind, this is just a fraction of moments that we are trying to establish positive self-talk. The more positive thoughts the better!
3. Sure, we all have areas that we want to improve upon, but it is all about how we refer to ourselves and talk to ourselves about ourselves. For example, instead of stating that something is “too hard,” reframe it by saying it is something that you are actively working on. That way we do not come to a definitive outcome or believe, “too hard” but instead see that these situations or events are fluid like water, they are always growing and have the ability to change and are not set in stone.
4. Often times I have noticed that we put all the energy put into preparing for the worse-case scenario which more times than often never happens. Instead, state what you would like to have happen, allow yourself to think about what if the best scenario happened. Focusing on the positive outcome gives you a chance to remember your skills, resources, support, and ability to overcome whatever you are facing. Choose to put your attention on what you CAN control and the positives in your life, not the Can Nots. Again, the mind is a powerful tool; train it to work for you not against you.
Written by Sonya Molina, LLMSW.