Did you know that we talk to ourselves all of the time? Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the thoughts that we are telling ourselves throughout the day. The way that we think about ourselves, and the way that our inner voice interacts with us, can really affect the way that we handle things in our day to day life. Once we learn to recognize and combat our negative thoughts, we can start to build a really strong positive dialogue with ourselves that can truly enhance our mood, productivity, and overall sense of well being.
The first step is listening
We all have an inner voice whether we hear it or not. The things we tell ourselves can really have an effect on how we handle even the most basic situations, so it is extremely important that we are aware of the thoughts that are going on behind the scenes. You can recognize some of the ways you talk to yourself when you are in decision making mode. Whenever you have to make a decision, especially an emotionally charged decision, listen to the way that you are thinking.
Ultimately, our inner voice helps to guide us through life and is generally a very good thing to have. However, sometimes our inner voice can become
Nix the negative
Negative thinking can get in the way of building a healthy self esteem and making important life decisions. It is very important to begin to notice any thoughts that do more harm than good, and confront them as they popup. For example, notice the times that you pass unnecessary judgement upon yourself and ask yourself if it is actually helpful. Any thought that does not propel you in the direction of success is a thought that is trying to hold you back.
The best friend challenge
Quite possibly the easiest way to gauge your thoughts is to put them through what I call the best friend challenge. Simply take the thought and ask yourself, “Would I say this to my best friend?” If the answer is no, its time to ditch that thought.
We owe it to ourselves to be considerate of at least on the level that we would our best friends. The thing is, most of the time we would tell our friends the truth. We would be honest. However, we wouldn’t say it in the harsh ways that we talk to ourselves. Whenever I am trying on clothes and I feel less than comfortable, I might think to myself that I am “ugly” or “Fat”.. these are things that I would never say or feel about my best friends. Putting thoughts through the best friend challenge can help us start to identify our negative thinking patterns and start to reframe them into more positive statements- words of encouragement, support – you know, the kinds of things that we actually would say to our friends.
Practice makes perfect
I used to think that if I went to enough therapy, everything would be fixed and I would never have any self-esteem problems ever again. Well, that’s not exactly how it works. We have to practice the skills that we learn or else we may lose them. Much like learning a foreign language, it is important for us to practice healthy self talk or else we may move back into our old ways of negative thinking.
The best way to practice is to create a simple daily habit. This can be in the form of a morning devotion, reading something that empowers you and reminds your of the importance of positive self-talk. You could also leave yourself little positive notes on the bathroom mirror, helping you remember to be kind to yourself each day. A self-talk journal can also be a wonderful way to keep track of your progress. Writing down any negative thoughts that you experience can help you become more aware of the negativity and work toward replacing some of the negative statements with some healthy positive self-talk. Whatever you decide to do, make it a habit and practice it often.