Critic or Friend? The Power of self-talk
I read a quote the other week, in fact I may have even shared it on social media, about how the way you talk to yourself can either empower you or defeat you. And it got me thinking… and listening…to myself and to the people I work with.
We seem to be programmed naturally to be so very hard on ourselves, so self-critical and beating ourselves up for the smallest of things. Now that’s not to say that we should strut around telling ourselves that we are the great ‘I am’ and the most perfect human to walk the planet. But a little more tender talking to ourselves certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Often the things we say to ourselves are downright cruel. We wouldn’t dream of saying such things to someone we love or to a friend, but we think it’s ok to speak like that to ourselves. We tell ourselves that we’re useless or a horrible person or that we’re fat or ugly. But how does this help us in life?
This morning I was running late, rather than doing two trips to the car I decided to be superwoman and carry everything I needed in one hit. All good, you may be thinking, but I’m not superwoman and inevitably I dropped all my stuff and spent a good few minutes scrabbling around finding it all and putting it in the car. ‘You stupid woman,’ I said to myself. And then laughed, thinking how silly I’d been to think I could possibly manage all those things and hold the car keys. Now a one-off incident like that isn’t going to do me any harm and will probably stop me from making the same mistake again. But I know people who constantly call themselves stupid, perhaps several times over the course of a day. Now your subconscious is always listening, to words and to thoughts. Whatever it hears it sets out to prove or find evidence for. So suddenly, in our minds, pop other thoughts of how we are also stupid, other cringe worthy things we may have done or said and before we know it, we feel terrible and really start to believe that we are truly stupid. A lady I worked with recently often used the phrase ‘it makes me sick and tired’ when describing events. It may not surprise you that she often felt very sick and was constantly tired. Our minds will always strive to give us what they think we are looking for.
However, as much as the things we say, it’s also the things we don’t say to ourselves. A colleague of mine was telling me recently how she’d overcome some serious challenges in her life and had gone on to achieve something amazing. I asked her how she had congratulated herself. She hadn’t. So I asked her what she would have done or said if it had been me. ‘I’d have taken you out for a slap-up meal and champagne,’ she told me, making me wish it had been me! She went on to tell me she was ‘quite’ proud of herself. ‘Quite’ when she should have been extremely proud of herself. Hmmm. Yes no one likes an arrogant show off but it’s ok and important to say well done to ourselves when we deserve it. Now that’s a tricky word. Deserve. If you find it difficult to say and mean that word or to say well done to yourself, it can throw up issues of low self esteem or sometimes it’s just a reflection of how you were bought up. Either way, it’s a sign to you to begin that process of healing so you can feel you deserve things.
So take a moment to reflect on how you talk to yourself. Does your internal voice empower or defeat you? What changes can you put in place today to change the way you talk to yourself? It’s cliché but take care of yourself. You’re all you have.
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