What Did You Just Say To Yourself?
It's funny, very often we aren't even aware of the things we say to ourselves inside our own heads. Well, in some cases, it isn't funny as much as it is concerning. Although this doesn't apply the same way to every single person on the planet, for many of us, there is a running dialogue with ourselves and it isn't always very positive.
Once, I was on a trip with a friend and we were just sitting around talking about life. I was explaining something to her about a challenge I'd had recently. A few minutes later she stopped me and asked "why did you say that about yourself?" I was sincerely surprised. "What?"
She proceeded to tell me in the kindest possible way that I seem to have a habit of speaking negatively in reference to myself on a semi-regular basis. I was skeptical. She then began to verbally repeat some of the phrases that had come out of my mouth over the course of the evening, and even in convos past. I recognized what she said, because I had to finally admit that these are things that I say to myself in my own head. Difference is, when you are with a friend, you say some of these familiar things out loud.
She was concerned because the things we continually repeat to ourselves about ourselves become ingrained in our heads and then we start to really believe them. I know this on a cognitive level and would even chide a friend of mine for this same behavior. The thing is, for some of us, it is so much easier to be gracious and uncritical when it comes to our friends and loved ones. Why, then, is it so easy to speak negatively of ourselves?
Granted, there is the extreme opposite and perhaps you know someone who can't seem to find any flaw with themselves, can't apologize when they hurt someone, and maybe even have narcissistic tendencies. But for many of us, we ourselves are an easy target. We can't leave ourselves and we live with our own flaws and failings everyday. Not to mention, unless we consciously become our own referee, there's no one else in our heads protecting us from the negative self-talk. We have to decide to take those thoughts captive when they arise and choose to replace them with a more realistic and positive affirmation.
Yeah, I know...the words "positive affirmation" can make some of us squirm. The idea of becoming some self-helping Stuart Smalley character could make you want to roll your eyes. But, the reality is, when we tear ourselves down verbally for long enough, we may start to really believe the worst possible things about ourselves. Even in cases where perhaps we did make a mistake or fail, instead of acknowleding to do better next time or make amends, we berate and beat ourselves up unjustly. That can, in turn, lead to actions, or non-actions, that lead us to places in life we don't really want to be. These choices can also affect the people we love, so it's worth intervening for your sake, and theirs.
I found this article from Verywellmind.com quite helpful, and I want to share it with you.
Treat yourself like you would a friend--because you are.