Before you throw up/roll your eyes/gag yourself with a wooden spoon jus’ listen for a second.
Don’t listen to me - no no - listen to yourself.
How many times a day do you mentally say things to yourself that are negative? Don’t pay attention to the negative things you say about OTHER people. Don’t even count the annoying lady in front of you in the 15 limit express check-out lane with 22 items, (because that’s probably me - you can count ‘same’ items as one, yah!?) or the Starbucks girl who puts REAL milk instead of soy milk, AGAIN. Stupid lactose intolerance.
Instead, just tune in for a day - not even - eight hours while you’re awake and interacting with the world and see how many times a day you put yourself down.
You. will. be. amazed.
I first started paying attention to this about ten years ago when I heard my friend’s two kids talking about how ‘stupid’ they are when they forget something. ‘I’m so STUPID.’ Grin. Run upstairs to grab the homework book/bookbag/clarinet/bristol board project that’s worth 95% of their grade. So I started telling them ‘no negative self-talk’. Period.
And then…I forgot my thermos of tea. “Arg, I’m so stupid…” Came right out of me like I was someone else. WHOOPS.
We think it doesn’t affect us because we ‘don’t really mean it’. Well, then why do we say it?
Words are powerful. They have the power to encourage or strip down. To bolster confidence or destroy it. I know I’m not alone in remembering (even though I try to forget) my eight grade teacher who once told me I was stupid in front of the whole class. I’m sure most of you have similar experiences, maybe not with a teacher but from someone else in a position of authority.
Maybe they said you needed to lose weight, or focus more, or to forget about being (whatever it is you wanted to be - rocket scientist) because you’re too (dumb, scatterbrained, clumsy, etc etc).
I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the hurt that comes with a careless word either from an authority figure or a spouse, or maybe even a parent themselves.
Words can hurt.
So, doesn’t it make sense that words have the power to heal? To build up, shore-in, to make new?
After a few days of listening to your own negative thoughts, try replacing the negative mantra (because that’s what it is, something you say over and over again that becomes a part of who you are) with a positive one. Replace ‘I’m so stupid’ with ‘I am brilliant and beautiful’, or something else that resonates with you.
Forget ‘I’m so fat’, that just perpetuates the problem. Try replacing it with ‘I make healthy choices for myself’. Or ‘I am a healthy eater’. It really doesn’t matter if you are. Your intention is to change your negative self-talk. Eventually, after telling yourself you are a healthy eater over and over again you know what happens? No kidding but you start to eat healthier. Why?
Because you’re a healthy eater!
It’s like this weird backwards bio-feedback loop. Like smiling when you’re sad makes you feel happier. Your brain is like, oh, I’m smiling so I must be happy. This is true, I can’t make this up. Just google ‘Smile makes you happy’ - there are loads of articles about it.
It’s easy to make light of the dialogue we have with ourselves, but words have power. Take a dive off the deep end with me and try replacing the negative or neutral self-talk with uplifting phrases that make us feel good. Try it for a week and see how you feel. If you don’t like it or don’t notice a difference, chuck it and let me know.
Here are a few of mine if you aren’t sure what to say. Try different variations and play around with the words until it feels strong to you.
I am healthy, healed and whole.
I am finding my life’s purpose easily and effortlessly.
I am protected, shielded and guided.
I am free to imagine my best life.
I am joyful.
I am sincere.
I am sincere.
it does feel a little wonky at first. Like, I’m not being realistic. Or, I shouldn’t be happy because there are things happening in my life right now that are upsetting. But when is it a good time to start trying to live a happier, more fulfilled life?
How will you see the opportunities to this happier life if you're stuck in the mire of negativity?
GET UNSTUCK. GO FORTH and be positive. And in the words of the great W. Churchill:
“I am an optimist. It doesn’t seem too much use to be anything else.
Update: You can find free affirmations at freeaffirmations.org