When I look back over the last several years, the change that made the biggest impact on my life was my self-talk. I spent most of my life beating myself up for every failure or mistake I made. If I did not win in everything, I was a loser. I was the epitome of a perfectionist. I now realize that these views came from a place of believing I was not good enough. I had to achieve something in order to be whole and I never really loved myself. As I grew older and started studying psychology and eastern philosophies, I began to see how skewed my views were. The below are three tips that I put in to practice to help me overcome my negative self-talk and begin to love myself
“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.” – Marcus Aurelius
1: Our Thoughts Are Not Who We Are
They are only thoughts and they will come and go. When negative self-talk pops into your head, it is best to have compassion for yourself, become aware of the thought, label it, and let it pass. Mindfulness and meditation are how I came to this realization. When you begin to sit in silence with yourself, you see how often these negative thoughts pop up. I found out that I was my worst critic. I would never say the things to a friend or loved one that I was telling myself. I started to journal on these thoughts and when you see them on paper the cruelty really shows its head. Awareness of these thoughts is the first step. Then, you must learn to add positive self-talk into your daily practices.
2: Develop a Growth Mindset
In a growth mindset, a term coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This helped me recognize that I do not need to be the best in everything I do and it doesn’t matter if I am wrong. With this mindset, I can handle failure better because I realize that it is part of my growth process as a human. I enjoy learning new things and now understand that it will take time to become proficient. I have always been highly competitive and still struggle with trying not to compete with others on a daily basis. To help with this, instead of seeing everything as a competition, I remind myself that I have something to learn from all the people I meet and every situation in my life. I still enjoy competing but realize there is a time and place for it. I find it much better to enjoy the process of learning and enjoy this ride of life. The only person I need to be better than is who I was yesterday.
3: Taking Care of Your Body
Becoming aware of your thoughts and working to develop a “growth mindset” is a great start to building a better relationship with yourself. For me, in addition to positive self-talk, I began taking care of my body, developing a movement practice and testing myself. This process starts with eating lots of whole foods and plenty of plants with little to no processed foods. A movement practice is also a key pillar to reframing the thoughts in your head. Your body was made to move and a movement practice will fuel a more positive self-view. Set a goal. Maybe it’s running one mile or thirteen, the distance doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are taking action. When you set your mind to something and finish it, this will set you up to do it again, in turn, creating positive momentum in your life.
To Sum it Up
If you have a strong inner-critic, realize that you are not alone. Even the most successful people in the world struggle with these issues. Once you realize this, work to reframe your thoughts and realize they are not you. Your negative thoughts can come and go but that is not who you are as a person. When you struggle in life, realize it is all part of your growth and every experience is an opportunity to grow and learn. Start taking care of your body and set goals for yourself to achieve. As you begin to achieve your goals and improve your body, the ratio of negative to positive self-talk will begin to improve. We will never be able to fully eradicate negative self-talk but once we learn to reframe it and make changes in how we respond, we are on the right path.