I have a challenge for you. I hope you’ll accept.
Stop speaking negatively to yourself.
This means no:
- I can’t . . .
- I should . . .
- I should have . . .
- I could never . . .
- I don’t have . . .
- I’m just not . . .
- It’s my fault that . . .
- I’m too . . .
- I’m not . . . enough.
What if you tried?
What would happen?
I issue this challenge to my clients regularly, and their experiences are fascinating.
Many of them find it difficult. They report that they were floored by the number of times they caught themselves in the act of speaking to themselves in a way they would never, ever speak to someone they love.
They are equally amazed by the intensity. Not only would they never use the same language with someone they love, they wouldn’t speak the same way to someone they just tolerate. Or even actively dislike.
They are shocked to discover that they sometimes speak to themselves like someone less-than, or like an enemy combatant.
Sometimes, they find that they believe their negative self-talk as truth, and so don’t even recognize it at first. “Wait . . . I think I’m so bad in social situations might be negative self-talk.” It takes actively paying attention to see it.
Some of the most profound results come for clients who notice how attached they are to the habit. When the very idea of stopping their negative self-talk feels like a threat, like losing something valuable.
In these cases, it feels like their negative messages are the reason they take action, the thing that propels them forward, helps them succeed.
There is nothing valuable in your life that was born from shame.
Nothing. Not one thing.
The way we speak to ourselves isn’t in the forefront of our consciousness. We’ve practiced the messaging over and over again, and so it just feels like a part of us.
But it forms our sense of possibility, our limitations, our access to joy, our success.
And so I think we should bring it to the forefront, into our consciousness. I think it should be deliberate. At the very least, we should be aware of it.
So for the next week, try.
Notice when you think or say limiting things about you. And interrupt the pattern. Just redirect your thinking when you notice it happening.
It can help to use a disruption phrase — something you say to yourself every time you notice and interrupt negative self-talk. I like, “that’s not how we roll” but pick what works you.
You can change your language to something more neutral, or let it go entirely.
Throughout the week, journal about your findings — in the moment, or once a day. (I highly recommend a combination of both.)
At the end of the week, look at what you’ve found. How often are you telling yourself a limiting story? How often are you using language that reinforces a negative self-image? How is negative self-talk affecting your life?
And what’s the upside?
I’m very serious about this question.
When I committed to stopping my negative self-talk, this was the question I found most helpful, because I couldn’t find one (an upside). Sure, my brain gave me some initial answers like, “you’ve gotta keep yourself in check,” but they fell apart under even the mildest scrutiny.
Because what does that even mean? Is “in check” the same thing as humble? Honest? And would I not be those things if I stopped berating myself?
Certainly, telling myself that I wasn’t enough wasn’t the thing keeping me from being a psychopath?
I want you to tell a story about you that builds the future you want. And I believe you absolutely can do it.
So try it. Tell me about it. Tell me how I can help.
“High performers are usually motivated by anxiety.” I used to believe that. I thought my stress was the reason I got everything done. I even liked feeling it. It felt familiar, helpful. But what I didn’t see is that stress has only negative effects — on physical health and emotional energy. I was exhausted at the end of the day, and eventually, believed it was my job that was exhausting. Stress wasn’t a motivator that served me. I was using it because I erroneously thought that without it, I wouldn’t get as much done. Removing it as a motivator resulted in much more energy and mental capacity. And I taught myself that I get a lot more done when I’m motivated by passion, determination, and my values. I can teach you how to make this switch. Schedule a free consultation call, and let’s talk about working together. If you’re a good fit for my program, I’ll let you know. But regardless, I’ll give you a set of steps for decreasing your negative motivation and increasing your energy. Let’s talk.