Picture this: it’s Monday morning and you’re sitting at your desk. You look at your To-Do List for the week and suddenly, terror comes over you. You’re not even sure where to start and immediately feel like you want to throw in the towel. You think, “This is way too much. I can’t handle it (*hello, anxiety.) Last week I didn’t accomplish half the things I had to do so why would it be any different this week? I'm so frustrated. Why am I so unproductive? Why can’t I just get things done? I’m useless.” Sound familiar?
Negative self-talk is human – in fact, condescending, disruptive, self-deprecating inner dialogue happens to everyone, so you're not alone in this. However, that doesn’t mean you should just let it be and therefore wallow in it. If you do, you’ll probably end up demotivated, disempowered and struggle with procrastination even more. So what can you do to stop the crappy feelings from taking over and finally feel better about yourself?
How to stop beating yourself up and boost self-esteem
It’s important to make an effort to try to stop the negative mind chatter when you hear it kicking off and instead, focus on increasing self-love and happiness. In turn, this starting point can lead to nurturing attributes that may have been suppressed by the negativity, like confidence, compassion and building better self-esteem. You don’t say things like that to your loved ones so why do you say it to yourself? You don’t critique your loved ones so why can't you support yourself in the same way? In order to identify how to deal with self-critique, let's look at what the voice inside your head is influenced by:
1. The voices from your past (like those of a teacher, manager, parent or friend)
2. Your general perspective of life
3. How self-compassionate you are
Interestingly, the solution is that you can’t change what people have said to you in the past but you sure as hell can give it less power! And you do that by focusing on working on your perspective and your self-compassion – the three factors all tie in together to help the healing process.
Looking at your perspective, when you are faced with something that triggers your negative self-talk, ask yourself:
• Are my thoughts driven by my rational or emotional mind?
• Are my thoughts a realistic representation of what’s going on, of who I am and how capable I am of doing things?
• What evidence do I have against and for my thinking?
These questions can help you to start rationalising the situation instead of over-dramatising it. The next step is bringing in compassion with questions like:
• Would I say this to my best friend?
• If my friend was saying this to themselves, what would I say to them to challenge their negative self-talk?
• How could I reframe this situation in a more compassionate light?
Now you’re on the path of not only having a better perspective but also having a more compassionate one. Self-love can be a real challenge for some of us and the harder we feel it is, the more we need to work on it. Use these questions to bring that compassion in so you can show yourself some self-love by practicing positive self-talk.
After all, as Psychologist Christopher Germer said, “A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your entire life.”
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