I encourage you to start REALLY listening to how you talk to yourself. And if you’re really brave, write it down. It will shock you. It will be awful. You will realize you are saying stuff to yourself you probably would never say to your worst enemy. I could pretend I’m alone in this, but I hear co-workers and friends say horrible and untrue things about themselves all the time, so I KNOW I’m not alone.
Here’s a few examples I heard said out loud just last week:
“I’m such an idiot!”
“AHHHH, I’m so stupid, sorry…”
“I’m such a mess.”
“Why can’t I figure this out, everyone else has! I’m so slow…”
“I look and feel disgusting.”
These are examples said OUT LOUD by adults, not pimply teenagers. And I can promise you their self talk was even worse in their heads. I know it can get pretty gnarly in my head.
Are these truths? No. Would you EVER say these things to someone you cared about and adored? No. So if you are attempting to take better care of yourself, perhaps internally screaming might not be the most effective way of practicing self care?! Just a thought.
The tricky thing about the negative self talk, is very possibly the only person who really knows how mean you get with yourself is YOU. You may impress people with how much you exercise, meditate, pray, take time for yourself etc….but if your self talk resembles a scary demon, only you will really know. AND, only you can really fix it.
For me, when negative self talk rears its ugly head it’s usually because I’ve experienced a moment of vulnerability that makes me feel stupid, worthless, irrelevant, ignored etc. Suddenly I morph into a 7-year old version of myself and I become the kid sitting alone at lunch, getting picked last at kickball, getting laughed at in class…
So what’s the solution?
1.) Notice what you are saying to yourself. Shine a massive flashlight on your negative and evil words. Sometimes just acknowledging the negativity you are spewing at yourself will get you off the hamster wheel of self loathing.
2.) Try saying the opposite of what you were initially telling yourself. Ex: instead of “I’m disgusting and ugly” try saying “I’m beautiful.” You will feel silly saying this instead. This is not because the negative words are true but because you may have a hard time saying lovely things to yourself. (Sad but true) It may feel false and patronizing. Say it anyway.
3.) Be kind to yourself. Offer encouragement the way you would to your best friend or to a small child. Pretend they are you, what would you say to them? Now practice saying this to yourself. Be kind.
4.) If you have people in your life who can help you snap out of negative self talk, then use them. Ask them to be your mirror. Vocalize your scary demon thoughts so that you can also see how untrue they are.
5.) Forgive yourself when you jump right back into the self loathing. This may be more of a pattern than you realized. It will take some time.
Day at a time. And above all else, be kind to thyself.
One Reply to “Pay attention to how you talk to yourself.”
As I read your words I realize how many people I have encouraged to seek this perspective. .. Yet as helpers we are the last to heed our own advice. People always tell me “but you’re a therapist, you should know this already!” As if my ability to help others has everything to do with my ability to help myself. My journey has been and will always be filled with caring people like YOU (the people reading this now and the person who started this Blog). Thank you for starting this!