Your Own Worst Frenemy – Self Talk

I want to tell you about something that has changed my life for the better over the past few years. Each and every one of us have an ongoing internal dialogue. Even if you don’t audibly talk to yourself, you are constantly evaluating and making judgements about your behavior and identity. These judgements can be constructive and spur you on to greater things, or they can be extremely detrimental to your mental health.

Saying or thinking negative thoughts about yourself means you’re completely normal. I’m sure there’s a small percentage of mental unicorns somewhere in the world that see nothing but the good in themselves, but the vast majority of humanity compares the highlight reels of others with our own ever-present shortcomings and rehearses them until we successfully exhaust our hope for change. It’s that exact behavior that we need to take a stand against.

A generally accepted rule in life is to not be a bully or put others down, so why wouldn’t we listen to the same advice when it comes to bullying ourselves?

Let’s take a work deadline for example. I have a weekly report due to my management every Friday before I leave. I have many times not delivered the report until Monday morning in the first few hours of the business day. Every time I did that, I had a choice. I can say and believe one of two things about my behavior and identity. I can say, (1) “I turned my report in late again. I’m never going to change, and I’m a failure for doing this again. I’m not a good employee,” or I can say, (2) “I missed this week’s deadline, but that doesn’t define who I am. I am someone who constantly improves and can change for the better. I’m a freaking awesome employee, because I’m going to work my hardest to change this habit and not let this effect my work performance for the rest of the day!”

Cheesy example, I know, but you get the picture. Insert any negative thought you keep saying to yourself, and replace it with a positive identity statement. “I messed up that presentation, but I am a professional that will prepare better next time.”

How I currently self-talkHow I will self-talk in the future

I’m not a good presenter, and I hate public speakingI need more practice than others may need before a big presentation, and I’m going to put in the work to improve
I am never going to get my life togetherNobody has life figured out, but I’m going to look for ways to get 1% better everyday
I’m an idiot; I can’t believe I did that againEveryone makes mistakes and I have intrinsic value not determined by my actions. I can change this behavior and I will

Next time you catch your inner voice trying to keep you down, try to notice the tone and the words you are using. Are they words you would use about a friend? Would you say what you are saying to someone close to you? Is there a way to re-frame the dialogue to a more positive note? Instead of, “I can’t get anything right, and I won’t amount to anything,” try “I messed up but I am not a failure, and my progress may be slow right now, but I’m playing the long game and I will figure this out!

How are you going to implement positive self-talk in your life? Find me on Twitter @Josh_M_Newman

This article was originally published by Josh Newman @ reallyreallybadly.com on 10-Dec-2019. This is also day 2 of 30 in my challenge to post valuable content every day for 30 days.

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