~ Brené Brown
Have you ever thought about how much better you’d feel, and how much you’d get done in a week (and I mean really get done) if you could shut off the voices of self-doubt and worry that pop up in your head? You know the voices I’m talking about:
You can’t do that. Who are you kidding? You’re not smart enough. Others are more qualified. You don’t have what it takes. There’s no time. You have no energy. You’re lazy. No one will take you seriously.
Some days don’t you just want to tell that voice to shut the #$%! up?
Negative self-talk happens to all of us. Even the most confident and successful person can get beaten down by their inner saboteur now and again. And while it’s normal to have moments of self-doubt, too much of it can get in the way of success and self-confidence.
We talk to ourselves more or less continuously throughout the day. Our brains are always active, making decisions, thinking through problems, processing information, and providing an inner dialogue about ‘how things are’. Watch out for that last one, because up to 70% of our self-talk is negative. What do you say when you talk to yourself?
“I’m stupid, I’ll never figure this out, No one will take me seriously, I’m not smart enough.”
Now if another person said any of those things to you – you’re stupid, you’ll never figure it out, no one will take you seriously, you’re not smart enough – you’d tell them off, or question their worth as a friend. Yet we say things like that to ourselves regularly and accept it as truth.
Keep up that negative self-talk and it can lead to anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, fear of failure and after awhile you start believing your own misguided propaganda. Tell yourself often enough that you’ll fail and you almost certainly will.
News flash: When that inner critic speaks you don’t have to listen!
I acknowledge that it’s not exactly easy to just switch off those deeply-ingrained negative thoughts and start believing positive self-talk. You can try telling yourself “I am an amazing, intelligent, successful person”, but if your core belief is that you are never enough or undeserving of success, your brain will be quick to fight back. “Who are you kidding!?”
Believe me, I’ve been there.
The problem is, our limiting beliefs hang out in the dark depths of our sub-conscious where they’ve laid down roots. So those positive affirmations made at the sunny conscious level barely make a dent in uprooting deep-held negative thoughts.
And here’s the thing; emotions like fear, doubt, sadness and disappointment are normal sometimes. Yes, too much negativity is not good, but neither is splashing pink paint all over those feelings and pretending everything is rosy if that’s not how you feel right now.
Research suggests that positive affirmations can help people who are already hanging out in a place of self-confidence and high self-esteem, but if you’re not there, that forced optimism and Pollyanna self-talk can actually make you feel worse. I don’t sound very positive do I? Stay with me!
So, how does a negative self-talk worrier become a positive self-talk warrior?
#1 Pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Notice when anger, self-doubt and other emotions side-track your mood and motivation. In other words, get to know that inner saboteur just a bit better. We all have a saboteur voice, and the sooner you can recognize how it talks to you, the sooner you can learn to manage it. If you want an exercise that can help you with that, download it here: Identify your Saboteur www.worklifeenergy.com.
#2 Acknowledge and redirect. In coaching I ask a lot of powerful questions to my clients to challenge them on their thoughts and beliefs. Try it with your self-talk. When those negative thoughts jump up to hijack your progress, acknowledge them and re-direct toward more fruitful outcomes. If you hear yourself saying something like: I can’t do this, I suck. Re-frame and ask yourself. What part of this can I do right now? What am I good at that I can focus on right now? or my simple favourite, What do I need for myself right now?
That last question is important, because some of the time, negative self-talk comes out of need for a bit of positive self-care. Which brings me to my next point.
#3 H.A.L.T. and I.D. The next time you’re feeling particularly punchy, down on yourself or downright negative, H.A.L.T. and ask yourself, “Am I HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY or TIRED?” It’s a simple check-in that can shine a light on why you might be down.
If you haven’t eaten, if you’ve got a grudge or an unresolved issue weighing you down, if you’ve been spending too much time on your own, or apart from important people, if you haven’t been sleeping properly, your coping mechanisms will go down and negative self-talk and low self-regard will go up, up, up.
So, H.A.L.T., identify the self-care need and provide your mind and body what they are asking for.
#4 Take an ‘awesome inventory’. If negative self-talk seems to rule your mind, why not give it something better to focus on? Write down 10…no, 20 things about yourself that you know are AWESOME. Things you truly like about yourself. Skills you know you’re great at. Don’t cringe. It’s not as hard as it sounds. It’s in our nature to focus on what’s not working. We’re more likely to notice what we should be doing better, when most of the time the positive and awesome things far outweigh the negative. Truth. So, get a piece of paper and start your awesome inventory.
And if you need some coaching guidance to unleash your inner awesome, ask me about one-on-one sessions.
Until next time I’m Michelle Cederberg helping you transform your work and life, one positive thought and one recharge at a time!
Michelle Cederberg, MKin, BA Psyc
Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)
Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP)
Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC)
ORSC Trained Team Coach
Live Energetically ~ Do Work You Love ~ Get the Most Out of Life