The way we speak to ourselves is vitally important because it influences our self-image which controls what we can and cannot do, what is easy or hard for us, and even how other people think of us.
“Human beings always act and feel and perform in
accordance with what they imagine to be true about
themselves and their environment.”
What you believe you are capable of defines the limits of possibility for you. It is therefore crucially important that you set yourself up for success by being mindful of how you speak to yourself, both in your mind, and out loud, with other people. Often I have found that my “throwaway comments” were actually very revealing.
Start paying attention to the things you say to yourself when you are being sarcastic or making a joke. It’s possible that the way you’re speaking to yourself is actually harmful to your self-image.
For example, you might say something like, “We were going to save the best for last. but I’m here instead.” A “throwaway comment” or a joke like that puts you down. Those comments worm their way into your subconscious where they build and reinforce a negative self-image.
In order to expand our capabilities, in order to find fulfillment, and more than what we have in our current lives, it is crucial that we speak nicely to ourselves.
In the past, I’ve caught myself speaking to myself in ways that I would never speak to another human being. I would have more courtesy and respect for a complete stranger than I had for myself in those moments. Heck! I would have more courtesy for someone I didn’t like than I used to show to myself from time to time.
Unfortunately, speaking to myself in very negative ways made me start to feel bad about myself. It made me question my abilities, and doubt myself. Overall, it made me less confident.
I had thought I was presenting myself in a humorous, joking way. However, by making those jokes at my own expense, I was actually harming myself.
Once I realized this, I started really paying attention to the things I was saying about myself, both out loud and in my head. It’s really helped me to become more confident.
Can you think of examples of how you speak badly to yourself?
Perhaps you say to yourself, “Bad things always happen to me.” Or maybe you tell yourself that you’re a dummy, or stupid, or lazy, or no good.
It’s important to remember that your behaviour and your feelings all come from your beliefs. Your beliefs, in a large part, are created and reinforced by your self talk.
Questions to Ask Yourself
If you find yourself telling yourself, “I can’t,” ask yourself,
- “Why why do I believe that I can’t do this thing?”
- “Is this belief based on an actual fact or is it possible that this is an assumption or a conclusion that’s maybe not correct?”
- “Is there a rational reason for this belief?”
- “Is the opposite true?”
- “If this was my best friend, would I come to the same conclusion about them?”
If there is no good reason to continue to act and feel in a way that doesn’t support you, then, for the love of tacos, stop acting in a way that doesn’t support you. Sometimes having a heart-to-heart talk like this with yourself can help you to resolve some limitations you’ve been holding onto yourself, without even realizing it.
Fact or Fiction?
Sometimes, we give up too easily, and that is why we keep repeating our negative self-talk. Maybe there are problems you’re no longer trying to fix because you’ve just accepted the “fact” that they cannot be solved.
For a time, I hated my job. The throwaway adjectives I’d often use was “soul-crushing.”
One day, a co-worker challenged me on my language. He said, “Soul-crushing?”
Reflecting my language back to me in this simple way revealed a deep unhappiness I’d known about, but dismissed. My dissatisfaction at work had just become a fact. I told myself that I needed my job. After all, I have bills to pay, and I can’t be without an income. I felt trapped in a job I hated, and I didn’t feel like I could do anything about it.
I accepted the “fact” that my money had to come from my job. I told myself finding another job would be pointless, because, I reasoned, it would just be more of the same anywhere I went.
I’m so glad I learned to become aware of, and challenge, ideas that don’t support my success. Now I know that income can come from many sources. I can always find another source of income.
I encourage you to likewise apply some rational thought, and challenge your ideas. Use your imagination to window shop for some new and different ideas and possibilities. Maybe the facts that you think you know are not actually facts at all. Maybe the opposite is actually true!
Rewrite Your Negative Self Talk
Other than creative visualization, which is a self-image building exercise and activity that I’ve spoken of previously, you can also take negative beliefs and turn them around with language.
Let’s take as an example someone who believes that they can’t do anything right. They say to themselves, “I can’t do anything right.” There are a few ways you can rewrite this.
- A) You can accept the feeling as it is, and consciously decide to love and accept yourself nonetheless.
- B) You can put the feeling or belief in the past, and add a new, more resourceful feeling.
- C) You can simply rewrite your negative belief as a positive affirmation. Please recall that an affirmation is a short, positive statement experssing what you want to be true, or the belief you want to hold.
- A–> “Even though sometimes I feel like I can’t do anything right, I deeply love and accept myself.”
- B–> “While I used to believe that I couldn’t do anything right, I now know that I can achieve any goal.”
- C–> “I can do anything.”
As you can see, there are a lot of ways that you can rewrite yourself talk. However you decide to proceed, please proceed, and remember that the language you use about yourself, to yourself is of vital importance. Your self talk, in part, determines what kind of life you can lead and what level of success you can have.
Ultimately, how you think about yourself determines what you are capable of, so be very careful when telling yourself something about yourself. Please be careful of all the times you say “I” and especially “I am” because whatever follows, might impact your self-image.
- “I’m an idiot.”
- “I’m a dumb-ass.”
- “I’m a fuck-up.”
- “I’m awesome.”
- “I’m smart.”
- “I can do anything.”
The more you say things like that to yourself, the more true those things become. You really do choose your own adventure, so make it a good one!
Choose the meanings you give to events carefully. Sometimes, we take responsibility or blame for things we cannot control. And, at other times, we refuse to take responsibility when we are entirely responsible for the way we think and feel, and the meanings we give to things.
Instead of telling yourself bad things about yourself that hurt you, and make you less capable, and shrink you, try telling yourself loving and supportive things. Try speaking to yourself the way that you would speak to your best friend, or to a cherished family member.
If you really want to grow and change as a person, then you need to mind your self-talk. Do everything in your power to make sure that the language that you use about yourself, out loud and in your mind, supports your highest good and ultimate success.