Most of us don’t really mean to be bullies to ourselves, it’s not something that we consciously and willingly decide to do! We weren’t born in a self-sabotaging state, which means that we acquired those habits and behaviors. And if you learn to self-hate, you can learn to self-love.
How do you, how do we bully ourselves? By negative self-talk.
Negative self-talk is the voice inside our head, commonly known as our “inner critic,” that essentially repeats back to us how “bad” we are. Our “inner critic” will convince us to believe that we are “dumb, ugly, fat, skinny, worthless, weak, powerless, unlovable and a failure at life.”
Your negative self-talk LIMITS your ability to believe in yourself and in your ability to reach your TRUE potential!
I’ll give you an example of what my “inner critic” was saying when I first got sick with Epstein-Barr. My narrative went something like this…
“Of course you got sick, you never take care of yourself! You don’t eat well, and you never rest! You deserve to be sick. How stupid are you that you allowed yourself to get sick! You’re suffering because you were in a very unhealthy relationship. You should know better. You’ll never be a successful coach because you have made yourself sick!”
And then on top of those thoughts, here’s an example of more negative thoughts. “You will never get well! You’re too old to start a better life. You don’t deserve to be in a healthy relationship because you’ve never been in one! You’ll lose all your friends because you can’t go anywhere with them or participate in activities together because you’re too weak! Bad things always happen to you. You’re so sick you’ll probably die young and alone. Then you’ll be a burden to your children. They won’t want to take care of you.”
Have you heard these phrases yourself? This is the thing, the way MOST of us think about ourselves is so negative that it can be downright nasty. Some of the “smack talk” is so bad that if you were to voice these thoughts to another person, you could be accused of bullying or worse yet, verbal assault!
Think about it! “You’re such an idiot.” “What is wrong with you?” “You are impossible.” “You’re such a loser!” Imagine what it does to your emotional state, and your self-esteem to continually be attacked this way? If someone else were putting you down the way you put yourself down, your senses would awaken, and you would probably defend yourself, right? However, with negative self-talk, there is no self-defense mechanism.
Listening to and believing what your inner critic tells you can be not only stressful, but it can prevent you from living your life to your fullest potential. My inner critic tended to highlight all the negative aspects of my life, and usually my fears. It always made me think that I was a failure. Even if I experienced failure, I would consistently beat myself up with my negative words, instead of separating “who” I was from “what” I did. What I discovered was when I experienced failure, I asked myself, “Where was the breakdown?” instead of blaming myself for the failure. That is the difference.
The pressure and the stress we create in our lives from negative self-talk is tremendous and debilitating. It’s when we’re experiencing stress and adversity that our negative self-talk begins to dominate our lives. Usually, the conversations we have with ourselves are full of doom and gloom. So, how long do we allow ourselves to live in a world of doom and gloom? How long do we accept our negative self-talk?
When we start believing the negative self-talk, then we are genuinely convinced that we deserve this life because our self-worth is at an all-time low. So how do we shut down the bullying, shaming inner critic? We do it by teaching our inner voice to speak to and about ourselves in a new language: the language of positive self-talk.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Miya Yamanouchi about how to think and speak positively to yourself.
“The way you choose to think and speak about yourself (to yourself and others) is a choice! You may have spent your whole life negatively talking about yourself, but that doesn’t mean that you have to continue on that path.” And, “You need to be your own cheer squad, not your own worst enemy.”
So, choosing to go down the path of empowerment, rather than victimhood, here are some steps to manage your negative self-talk.
I. Take responsibility
You are the only one who can commit to changing your thought patterns. You alone decide if you want to stop talking to yourself in a shaming, overly critical, judgmental, or punishing way. Do you feel you deserve a better life? When you take responsibility to make changes, then you commit to being aware of your toxic thoughts.
II. Commit to Taking Action
Once you commit to your journey of change, then the daily struggle and the daily pain that you’re living with will eventually disappear. I promise you! Your fears and feelings of negativity will be replaced with feelings of success, happiness, and joy. You will feel lighter, optimistic and hopeful about your life, and the future. For me, I decided that I had enough of living my life controlled by my fears and by my self-doubts. I wanted to get well and be healthy again. It was time to leave my past behind and move into the direction of empowerment.
III. Work the tools
When it is time to change, the first step is to become more aware of the problem. Increased self-awareness allows you to pay closer attention to your negative self-talk, catch yourself “in the act” sooner. Here are some tools I recommend.
Track your thoughts by journaling.
Write down your “inner critic’s” thoughts on a piece of paper and keep track of the situations that trigger you.
Be compassionate with yourself.
Ask yourself, “Would my best friend ever say these things to me? Would you allow anyone else to talk to you that way? Would you ever say that to someone you love?”
Use a “snap out of it” phrase or word.
Every time you consciously hear a negative or bullying thought in your head, use a phrase like, “Thank you, however, the truth is…and make it a positive thought instead! You’re teaching yourself to be aware and to start recognizing when the thoughts creep in. Pay attention to the here and now.
Create personal affirmation
If you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, sometimes it’s easier to change that thought, than to stop thinking of it. Using affirmations is an excellent way to do that. The key to affirmations is to keep them short, in the present and positive. Saying something like, “I am healthy and well,” or “I’m lovable and worthy of a great life.” Create your own that will be counter-intuitive to your negative self-talk.
Name your critic’s voice
I really like this tool. To separate my “inner voice” from my “inner critic,” I give them different names, my “inner voice” is Pirie, but my “inner critic” is Pesky! Lol! You must separate your “inner critic” from your identity.
There are many ways to love yourself. Here are a few suggestions to implement into your life. Write a love letter to yourself. Write what is beautiful about you and why you’re lovable. If this is difficult, call your bestie to tell him/her you’re having a bad day with a lot of negative self-talk, and could they tell you why they love you. Be vulnerable and ask for help! Vulnerability takes courage, and that’s what you need right now. Another tool to use is to create a positive traits list and a gratitude list. Write out all the positive traits you have. Be generous! Give yourself credit. Tell yourself what you’re good at and what you’re grateful for.
The Five-Second Rule to embrace change in your life
I learned this tool, and it changed my life! The journey to embracing change and managing your inner critic is a process. It’s like training for a marathon. This training, however, is getting your mind fit. The Five-Second rule is a tool that allows you to take control of your inner self-critic and take action! If you have a desire to act on a goal or make a commitment, you must take action within five-seconds, or your brain will kill it! When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you knew you should do, count from 5—4—3—2—1—Go! And do it! If you don’t take action to change, you’ll stay stagnant, and your negative thoughts will win!
A quote from Amy Leigh Mercree says,
“Your inner critic is simply a part of you
that needs more self-love.”
So, to recap! Using the tools above will empower you to take action so you can live your life to your fullest potential, with confidence, self-esteem, courage, and a positive outlook in life.
Don’t wait! Start today!
Love and Light,
Pirie Jones Grossman