I recently experienced a wonderful day of healing and opening of the heart chakra, which reminded me of how important it is to love ourselves. Then over the weekend I ran one of the ‘Heal Your Life and Achieve Your Dreams’ workshops I facilitate and what really stood out was our self-talk and resulting self-esteem. So today I want to talk about our self-talk and whether it is helping or hindering us.
Self-talk you say? We have probably all heard that talking to one’s self is a sign of mental instability, especially when we answer our own questions, but in general self-talk is a healthy and useful thing to do as long as the self-talk is positive and constructive.
It is important to monitor your self-talk to decide if what you are saying to yourself is healthy, realistic, appropriate or even true! Very often we tell ourselves things that are over-generalised or exaggerated, using broad sweeping statements such as ‘I am such a loser’ or ‘I never get anything right’ or ‘everyone else is happy except me’.
Realistic self-talk and negative self-talk are two different things. If you are not the world’s greatest singer and you say to yourself ‘singing is not my strongest talent’ that is not so much a negative statement as a realistic one. Personally I have tried doing affirmations to be a great singer and although it has improved my singing, I am aware it is not my major talent! So a negative statement would be ‘I have no talent’ or ‘nothing I ever do is good enough’. These are broad sweeping statements which have no basis in truth, they are not realistic statements.
Negative statements may come from things we were told or heard as children or even as adults. All too often in society today we seem to pass negative statements to each other, sharing them around like a virus! Sometimes it can be useful to go back and look at the messages your parents gave you, not so you can place blame, but so that you can release the patterns of self-talk and beliefs that no longer serve you. Identifying the thoughts that do not serve us can help us to change them.
The conversations you have with yourself have a huge impact on your mental, emotional and physical health. It may feel at times like there is a parrot on your shoulder which chirps out a continuous flow of negative affirmations, constantly reminding you of your fears and short comings. But the good news is that you can control the parrot! Awareness of the parrot and what it is saying is a good start.
The parrot symbol for me represents the ego or personality which may feel the need to protect you. When we have experienced painful things in the past our automatic response is to try and protect ourselves from repeating them. Hence the ego responds to triggers and sends out a message that say’s be on guard. Occasionally this can be useful, but more often than not the messages we took out of past situations are not accurate.
Unfortunately, when you start repeating those messages over and over to yourself you end up creating the experience you are trying to avoid. This is because what we think and feel is creative and acts like a magnet. You are like a projector and what you project out is what you will experience.
We need to acknowledge that voice (the parrot) and tell it that we no longer need it to protect us because we are no longer going to believe those messages. It can be helpful to have a new message to tell yourself when the old negative one comes up, that way you can replace it.
So what else can we do to help our self-talk? Firstly, be aware of what you are saying and ask yourself if it is really true and how you know it is true. Secondly, decide which thoughts you would like to have instead and start doing positive affirmations, ones that are realistic and appropriate, especially for building basic self-esteem. How you respond to negative self-talk is also important, your emotions make the talk more powerful so choose to observe without attachment.
Once you have a handle over the self-talk, you then need to move to changing your behaviours and actions to match. If you have started saying more positive things to yourself but you are staying in situations that are negative or behaving in ways that are self-destructive then you are not going to move forward. Thoughts + actions = Miracles.
Here are 10 Cognitive Traps to look out for: (information by psychologist Harriet B. Braiker)
- All or Nothing thinking – You see things in black and white categories. If a situation is anything less than perfect, you see it as a total failure.
- Overgeneralization – You see a single event as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using the words always or never when you think about it.
- Mental Filter – You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively. One word of criticism erases all the praise you’ve received.
- Discounting the Positive – You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count.” If you do a good job, you tell yourself that anyone could have done as well.
- Jumping to Conclusions – You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion. Two common variations are mind-reading (your arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you) and fortune-telling (you assume and predict that things will turn out badly.)
- Magnification – You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize your desirable qualities. This is also called the “binocular trick.”
- Emotional Reasoning – You assume that your negative emotions reflect the way things really are: “I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person.”
- “Should” Statements – You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. Many people try to motivate themselves with shoulds or shouldn’ts, as if they had to be punished before they could be expected to do anything.
- Labelling – This is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying “I made a mistake,” you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.”
- Personalisation and Blame – You hold yourself personally responsible for events that aren’t entirely under your control.
So take time to pay attention to your self-talk and if it feels a bit negative then do not take that as an opportunity to be hard on yourself but rather make a commitment to turning it around into something more positive. Decide today to speak to yourself with love, respect and joy.
Some affirmations you might like to use:
- I love and approve of myself (or I am willing to love and approve of myself)
- All is well in my world
- Life loves me
- I trust the process of life
- I am willing to change
- I am deeply fulfilled in all that I do
- I am worth loving
- I am safe
- I am abundant
- Positive new opportunities are always opening to me
- Everything I need to know is revealed to me, and everything I need comes to me in perfect Divine time/space sequence
- I trust myself
- I am a good person
- I am loved, loving and loveable
Have a fantastic day.
Love and light