Imagine sitting in a restaurant and a child walks up to you. They start talking to you and you ask them, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Now, take a moment to think about what your response is.
Let’s assume the child you imagined wanted to be a doctor. Did you tell them how hard it would be? Did you mention the tens of thousands of dollars in student loans they would spend 30 years paying off? Did you tell them they were not smart enough?
I doubt in your imagined conversation that any of these questions (or questions like them) were part of that conversation. I would venture to guess you told the child that their plan sounds great. In every scenario, I imagine you enthusiastically told them they could do it (or anything).
Now think about the last time you thought about doing something that was different from the path you are on. What did you tell yourself? Did you consider the reasons and then try to find a way to make it happen? Or did you tell yourself all the reasons why not to try?
If we can’t imagine telling a young child their dreams aren’t valid, WHY do it to yourself? We are all just children of the same universe. It’s time to embrace and encourage that inner-child.
You are what you think! It’s a proven fact. Studies over and over support that positive self-talk propels us forward while negative self-talk keeps us stuck (or even worse, moving backwards).
Here are seven things I do to help me combat my negative self-talk monster.
1. Acknowledgement. That’s right! Ignoring them, worrying about them, or pretending they don’t exist doesn’t change the fact that these are currently a part of your thought patterns. We have to change these thoughts. First, we need to acknowledge they are there.
2. Replace The Critical Voice. Some people may just say stop criticizing yourself. I don’t know many who are successful until they replace it with an uplifting one. Looking in the mirror and saying “You’re so fat” doesn’t make you want to lose weight. Let’s say your goal is to be healthier (or lose weight). Replacing the “I’m fat” voice with something productive and uplifting like “I’m not in the condition I want to be” is a more gentle truth which we are much more likely to work on.
Let’s say you wanted to travel the country from New York to Oregon. You get to Ohio and realize your budget doesn’t support the entire trip. So you go home. Stop looking at these little surprises as set backs (and remember to cut yourself some slack). You didn’t cut your trip short. You got to see everything from New York to Ohio. Enjoy the journey!
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack! No one is perfect. No one will ever be perfect. Telling yourself that you’re “never going to get that job” or that “you’re not good enough for [insert dream here]” is not going to get you anywhere except feeling defeated.
5. Stop Catastrophising. If you get a D on your first test next semester, you’re not failing the entire class. Life is a lot like a final that YOU get to create the questions AND the answers for. There is NO fail! It’s just a journey.
6. Stop Blaming. Yourself, others, the government… things just happen. While we may not be directly responsible for an event, our choices are what put us on a path. Acknowledge it, replace it, and don’t shift the responsibility (mentally, emotionally, or physically) to someone else. You are the creator of your dreams.
7. Practice Self Care. No matter what changes we want to make in out lives, we must always value and care for ourselves in every way. This link is a great place to start if you are having trouble coming up with your own. 80+ Self-Care Ideas. By practicing self-care, you reinforce your own value and it is much easier to eliminate self-talk when we value ourselves in thought and action.