Have you ever considered how often you talk to yourself? I do it ALL the time. Seriously! There are times that I am thinking about something and I’m in a public bathroom and find myself audibly thinking about it. Yup, random people just caught me talking to myself. Embarrassing right? For me, not as much as you would think. I mean, I probably won’t ever see these people again. I have to admit though, I haven’t always been able to shrug that embarrassment off.
But that isn’t the kind of talking to myself that I want to talk about here. I want to talk about all the negative shit I have ingrained in my mind to tell myself. I am probably one of the biggest offenders of telling myself how stupid I am. Yup, I do that ALL the time. But why? Why did I get started talking so horribly to myself when I wouldn’t even imagine telling someone else they are stupid?
We all have things we tell ourselves that aren’t exactly the nicest and we need to stop. Ha! But that is easier said than done. Am I right? Of course I am! I’ve been struggling with this for as long as I can remember. I’m sure if you are still reading this, you are as well.
So many of us blame our self-talk on the circumstances of our upbringing. Again, I’m an offender here. I was not raised in an encouraging household. In fact, there was more fighting and bullying than there was love. But my parents never looked from the outside in to see what life was like, they just kept living and talking the way they always had – negatively. I learned that life was shitty, our circumstances were the fault of everyone else, that my extended family hated us, that only the spoiled rich people made it in life, that all I was expected to do in life was graduate high school before getting pregnant, and that my good grades were nothing to be excited about or rewarded for.
Now, I’m not saying I blame my negative self-talk on my parents. I’m saying that is where I learned it. No matter where I learned it, I have continued to do it. Not only have I continued to do it, I very often take whatever I say to the extreme. Why? I don’t know, it just happens. I’m very critical of myself (that is a completely different topic for a later time). I mean VERY. In fact, some of my most recent negative self-talk would include things like:
- I’m so fucking stupid, I can’t even cook bacon without dropping it
- My family can’t even trust me to get decorations that they get the caterer to do it
- God, I’m so ugly, my hair is out of control
- Family doesn’t want to be around me unless I am presentable and done up
Do any of these sound familiar?
Those all came through this mind in the past couple of weeks. Look at you, reading this and thinking “damn, that girl is harsh!” If you stop and think for a minute, you may not say these same exact things, but you might tell yourself something similar, right?
We seem to constantly criticize ourselves using some of the worst self-talk. It is really difficult for some of us to be understanding of ourselves and not criticize ourselves every turn we make. But how do we get get that point? How do we get from happy kids to being over-critical of ourselves?
For most of us it is learned. I think I learned negative self-talk before I learned how to be supportive of myself. Learning how to switch from negative self-talk to positive self-talk isn’t easy.
When we talk negativity with or to ourselves, we impact our quality of life. Have you sat and thought about how difficult your life feels? Have you ever connected how you feel about life to how you talk to yourself? Probably not. I hadn’t. A lot of us think that our life is so difficult because of our circumstances – how we were raised, the education we received, the way our family is, etc. Changing from blaming my parents to taking ownership for the way I speak to myself has been a long time coming and is consistently a work in progress.
We are a product of the way we think and the way we talk to ourselves. I know, I know, the way we were raised has a big impact in and on our current life, but we can change how it impacts us. The way we describe our feelings and circumstances affects how we deal with our life each day. Think about this simple situation, the weekend versus Monday. Most of our world hates Monday. It is ingrained in our society. But what if you didn’t hate Monday? How would your life improve?
The feeling we put into our thoughts and self-talk determines our every move. When we are more critical of ourselves, we bash on every single misstep we have. But if we are forgiving of ourselves, dropping bacon while cooking isn’t that big of a deal. Do you see what I’m saying?
Self-talk isn’t something we can fix overnight. I PROMISE. I did some heavy personal development for a couple years and I was rocking and happier than I’d ever been. Then life hit and my drive to read/listen/watch personal growth outlets dwindled as my stress level went into overload. That was definitely the most critical time for me to continue, but I didn’t. I let the irrational thinking back in my daily life. I let negative self-talk rule me. It didn’t help that I was going through infertility treatments that kept not working. Those hormones and treatments are seriously life changing, even without success.
I took that opportunity to tell myself how much of a failure I am since I couldn’t even get pregnant and there was no medical reason preventing it. Enter the harshest self-talk I think I’ve ever had. Completely irrational. I didn’t realize the residue I was leaving in my subconscious every time I called myself a failure. That residue can be subtle, but it adds up and becomes completely dis-empowering.
All that negative self-talk adds up. Even the simple thoughts of not having enough time. I am a repeat offender on this one. I put so much pressure on myself and am ALWAYS telling myself I don’t have enough time. Even writing that sentence spurred anxiety of not having enough time. Negative self-talk is everywhere and applies to absolutely EVERYTHING we tell ourselves. Seriously, everything.
As Gary John Bishop says in Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, “We create our own reality with our minds.”
I have created the reality in my life that I’m worthless, a horrible person, lacking for time, not good enough, and more. It doesn’t matter that I heard a lot of that growing up. I was ALWAYS in trouble for not being of service to absolutely everyone. I was taught to put myself aside to make sure everyone else had what they needed. I was taught that since I was born in a poor immediate family (yes, in my world, that needs clarified), I would never be good enough to be successful. Success was tied to be raised with everything you needed and being handed everything in life. Oh how my parents were wrong.
I have a long way to go to overcome the lies I keep telling myself and that I reiterate from my childhood, but if I try a little every day, I know I can change the way I walk to myself. I can change the way my life is (not that it’s bad, but there are days I feel like it is). Notice, there is a lot of I going on there.
I don’t need to find the answer to all of these things I tell myself. There is no answer out in the universe. The answer lies within me. I am the answer. I am the change my life needs. I need to retrain my brain. But I have to be willing.
But being willing doesn’t give me action. Saying “I will change” does nothing. I have to actually do it. I’m not talking about reciting affirmations every morning that are pre-baked. That works for some people. But for some, it does not. I’m talking about shrugging off dropping a piece of bacon or not giving a shit what my family thinks about if I put makeup on or not to go to the aquarium. I have to own who I am, flaws and all, and not speak negatively to myself for every little thing. Is it going to be easy? No. Am I going to change over the next couple hours or overnight, no. Am I going to regress sometimes? Oh absolutely.
We have to make a decision and follow through changing our self-talk. How am I going to do it? One step at a time. One day at a time. One minute at a time.
Are you with me? If so, let’s have a conversation. In the comments below, tell me what are your biggest negative self compliments. How are they shaping your every day life?