Last week here on the blog, I talked about having belief in yourself….and today’s post is kind of a continuation of that topic, so if you missed last week’s post you can get caught up by clicking here. Today I’m going to talk about how to identify and stop negative self talk, and I find it a bit hilarious that I’m even writing about this topic – because this is something that I constantly struggle with, and it’s something that I am currently working on in my own life/business….but, as a result, I know that others must be struggling with it too.
It’s funny how, when you start focusing on something that you were unaware of before, it starts popping up everywhere! This topic has presented itself in so many books I’ve read this year, podcasts I’ve listened to, blogs I’ve read, conversations I’ve had, and even a couple of weeks ago during a conference in Washington, DC. I’d love to say that I was just “blissfully unaware” before I started working on this, but the truth is that you’d be appalled by some of the self-talk that goes through my head everyday….it holds me back all the time, and it can be hard to push through it.
In the past, I’ve always felt like a confident person – always sure of myself and the moves I was making….but the more I’ve pushed out of my comfort zone (and towards what I really want out of life) over the past 10 years – first with leaving the “security” of the corporate world, and then with leaving the photography industry (which means I’m now WAY out of my comfort zone), the more I have let doubt and uncertainty creep in. The further I’ve gotten from the traditional “work” world, the more I’ve worried about what others might think. I haven’t let it physically stop me from taking action and finding success, or from going for what I want – but the truth is that I have been waging an internal war with my emotions and thoughts every step of the way…and emotionally, I’ve let it hold me back in so many ways this year.
And – I often have to remind myself that I’m pushing through all of this because: I want to be present with my children and husband. I want to help people. I want to have the freedom to travel. I want to make a big impact. I want to have the ability to give back to my community. I want to be happy.
And I sure as hell DON’T want to let my internal self-talk or the fact that I’m worried about what others might think hold me back from getting what I want out of life.
The more that I open up conversations about this topic with friends, the more I realize that we are ALL guilty of this in some capacity. We all need to stop negative self talk. If you could hear the way that I often talk to MYSELF, in my own head, you would be shocked. And I’m willing to bet, you’ve got a similar internal monologue going on – that would be just as shocking to me…and, deep down, that negative inner monologue comes come from a place of FEAR.
But – if you feel unsure, or you’re lacking self confidence and belief in yourself, as I wrote about last week – you CAN rewrite the script. You can let go of your insecurities and go for what you want. You can escape those feelings. And it all starts with you, and what’s swirling around inside of your head. (And, because I’m writing this blog post as much for myself as I am for you, I’m just going to take this opportunity to also remind myself: It all starts with me, and what’s swirling around inside of my head.) Regardless of what’s going on in your life, and how little or much control you have over your current circumstances, you CAN change the way that you think think about them. And changing the way that you think can change your life.
So – here are 5 things that I am currently doing to flip the script and stop my own negative self talk – and I wanted to share them with you today because I know there are so many people who are struggling with this, just like I am:
1 – Start paying attention to your thoughts.
I want you to do me a favor – starting today, right now in this moment, I want you to start observing the things that you are thinking. Start paying attention to what is actually going through your mind throughout the day.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Amanda Gore speak (she was amazing!), and she mentioned that 95-99% of the time, we are completely unconscious of our thoughts. That means that they all day long our thoughts just race through our mind on autopilot, and we aren’t consciously steering them in any particular direction or questioning them or analyzing them. So, what are you thinking right now? Tomorrow morning, pay attention to what are you thinking when you wake up. What are you thinking while you’re brushing your teeth? Getting dressed? Getting the kids ready for school? Etc etc etc. When you look in the mirror, are you criticizing yourself? When you look at someone else, are you criticizing yourself because you’re not as [smart, pretty, successful, strong] as they are? As Amanda said a couple of weeks ago: “How you feel about yourself is THE most important thing.” And I believe that. The way that you feel about yourself dictates everything….not just your success in business/life, but more importantly, your ability to be happy and joyful. The way you feel about yourself dictates how you can show up as a mom, or a business owner, or how you are making your impact in the world.
If you’re like most people, I’d be willing to bet that you’re probably telling yourself some pretty horrible things throughout the day, and what I’d like you to do is actually start writing down those things down. Make a list. Write down the positive thoughts, too! You don’t ever have to show this to anyone, but I want you to physically write it down so that you can show it to yourself. This is something I’ve been doing, and I’m going to share some of my list down at the end of this post….but I want you to be start being conscious of the things you are telling yourself, of the things you believe about yourself. Get a journal, make a note on your phone – whatever feels most comfortable to you – just start documenting your self-talk.
2 – Ask yourself: Would I say this to my child or to my best friend?
For some reason, even though most of us are genuinely nice people, we are total jerks to ourselves! Oftentimes, we see more good/beauty in others than we see in ourselves. As you start paying attention to the negative chatter in your thoughts, I want you to ask yourself “Would I ever say this to my best friend, or (if you have kids) to my child?” If the answer is no, you need to reevaluate that thought.
Why would you say something to yourself that you would never say to anyone else? Why would you be SO mean to yourself? Can you imagine if there was someone following your kids around, or any kid around, and repeating to them the negative crap that you’re thinking about yourself in your head all day long? You’re not good enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not worth loving. What kind of impact would that have on them?
THAT is what you’re doing to yourself, every single day. Can you imagine if, instead of someone walking around pumping negativity into your kids all day long, someone was whispering positive affirmations in their ear and telling them that they’re perfect just the way they are? How would that change the outcome of their life? How would that impact their confidence and belief in themselves? You have that same power over your own life, and it lies inside of your mind.
If the thoughts that you’re allowing to rule your life are things that you would NEVER say to your best friend or to a child, you need to hit the freaking cancel button on those thoughts and stop negative self talk. You need to identify those thoughts for what they are – mean, bullying, and WRONG. They are stories that you’re telling yourself that are not true. And you need to start training yourself to identify them, and stop those thoughts in their tracks. So, as thoughts come up throughout the day, analyze them and ask yourself – is this something I would say to my best friend or my child? Start realizing that you need to treat yourself with the same love and stop negative self talk in its tracks.
3 – Rewrite the script.
This is the hard part for me. I can identify my negative self-talk, I can understand that it’s wrong – but it’s re-writing the script and changing those thoughts in the moment that’s the tricky part. But, here’s what’s helped/helping me:
1. After a few days of paying attention to your thoughts and writing them down, find a quiet few minutes and get out your list
2. Get out a separate blank sheet of paper and make a line down the middle, splitting it into 2 columns
3. On the left side of the paper, list out your negative thoughts. Don’t be afraid to feel the way that they make you feel.
4. On the right side of the paper, rewrite each thought into a TRUTH. What would you say to your best friend or your child in response to the negative thought? Do this yourself, or, if you feel comfortable with it – have someone who loves you help you to identify and write out your truths.
5. Start training yourself to recognize your negative thoughts throughout the day, hit the “delete” button on them, and tell yourself your TRUTH instead. You can stop negative self talk at any time. This is the hardest step for me, because it’s so easy to fall into bad habits and old thought patterns. I am far from perfect at this, but what has helped me the most is to record myself saying all of the positive thoughts from the right column (I just use voice memos to record on my iPhone), and then listen to them every morning and evening. It feels a little weird at first, but it’s been the most effective way for me to start shifting my beliefs. I also have been using a similar process for a long time for my monthly business/personal goals, which I’ll cover in a future blog post!
When you feel empowered because you take control of your thoughts, stop negative self talk, and make a change….and when you fill yourself with encouragement and positivity, you can truly change anything about your life. Let me know how it goes!