Do you say mean things to yourself, but don’t know how to stop it? Can you think of a time when you know your self-talk got the best of you and sabotaged something really important (a job interview, a relationship, a business, or a dream)? Are you tired of holding yourself back because you can’t get control of your self-talk?
You may be great at setting goals, starting relationships, or following your dreams, but it is impossible to accomplish them and keep your resolutions if you don’t get in control of your self-talk. Your self-talk drives everything in your life.
I used to have crushing anxiety and fear. I have trained myself to be my best coach, supporter, and encourager. I have trained myself to no longer fear public speaking. I have trained myself to show up in my relationships—all by getting crystal clear about my self-talk.
You may look outside of yourself to fix these issues, but the reality is that you speak to yourself more than anyone speaks to you, and you speak to yourself more than you speak to anyone else. That makes you your biggest influencer. For good, or for bad.
In fact, as researchers are discovering that placebos are more effective than actual medication, the pharmaceutical industry has been left worrying about the profitability of its industry. Prozac, a commonly prescribed antidepressant and other long-tenured prescription drugs are often proven less effective than placebos. Why? Because your brain believes what you tell it consistently.
You May Be Wondering, “Can I Change My Self-Talk?”
100 times yes! This is my absolute favorite area to work on with clients. Your self-talk is not who you are. It is not a function of your personality, and you were not born with it.
Your self-talk develops over a period of time, often in your childhood. It’s essentially an agreement between what the world tells you about who you are and what you decide to take on as your own.
Your self-talk feeds the lens through which you see yourself and the whole world, so deciding to address it and change it is the right choice.
Transforming your self-talk doesn’t happen overnight, but it is completely possible if you are diligent about taking the steps to make the change.
How to Transform Your Self-Talk in 6 Steps:
1. Track it.
Take a week and write down all the things that you say to yourself—especially when you notice you are having an emotional reaction. For example, when you are overwhelmed and need some help, you may find yourself saying: “It’s better to just do it myself.”
2. Explore it.
Ask yourself what your statement means and where it came from. Maybe explore the first time you noticed you had that thought. Example: “I was 8 years old and I asked my mom for help with my school project and she forgot to help me and I got an F. My mom was often busy and wasn’t always available when I needed help. I guess I learned that I couldn’t rely on anyone else but myself. I felt like it was dangerous to ask for help because I would just be disappointed and hurt.”
What your self-talk is really doing is reminding you in a not-so-helpful way that asking for help could lead to being hurt. That’s why you think, “it’s better to do just do it yourself.”
Example: “Asking for help is a safe, healthy, and self-loving act. I can do it myself, but I am strong enough to rely on others as well.” This is called an affirmation. Your words will resonate with you the most, so use your own words, not mine.
4. Speak it.
Write down your positive affirmation, and say it 10 times per day and any other time that you notice the negative self-talk.
5. Maintain it.
Don’t evaluate whether it’s working. I promise that doing it for a few days or a few weeks will not create huge changes for you. But if you are consistent over months, you will start to notice a change. Think about your affirmation like vitamins or eating your vegetables. The benefits are experienced over time.
A rule of thumb for transforming your self-talk is to work on speaking to yourself the way that you would talk to a good friend. You wouldn’t put her down or tell her how unattractive, stupid, unwanted, or unloved she is. Many of us regularly speak those words to ourselves, and that is unacceptable. Become your “bully defender,” and don’t let yourself speak that way to yourself!
Every six months, check in with yourself by tracking your self-talk again to see if anything different emerges. Adjust your positive affirmations as needed.
This one article may not be all you need to dive deep into this work, but it’s a great first step. Check out my self-talk course for more help.
You’ve got this, my friend. It just takes a little grit and grace!
For further encouragement on this topic, check out this episode of This Grit and Grace Life podcast: It’s Time to Stop Saying These 7 Things! – 106