Give Yourself a Break!: Dealing With Negative Self-Talk

I am frequently told that I am "not working hard enough" or "not getting enough done". I know, can you believe someone would say that to me?! The funny thing is, I have only ever heard these words from myself.

When was the last time you told yourself some form of "you are not good enough"? Would you ever say this to a friend? No! You wouldn't! You would undoubtedly try to find the words to boost your friend's morale and tell them all the good things you see in them that you wish they could see themselves.

If you do not suffer from such negative self-talk, that's wonderful! Please tell me your secrets :) Unfortunately, this is something I struggle with, but I wanted to share a few remedies I've found help to curb it.

Get It Done

A lot of my negative self-talk is about work. I'm always doing too little, working too slowly, etc. But the only one judging my work ethic is ME. My friends, family, and business partner have only ever been supportive and positive, as I have been to them. So why can't I extend that same positivity to myself every day? This can end up snowballing to the point that it keeps me from doing anything at all - because why bother. And then, of course, the negative self-talk gets even worse, and the cycle continues. To break myself free of this vicious circle, I will try to get one small thing accomplished. Sending one email. Replying to one text. Reading one chapter. Updating one web page. Something tiny to cross off of my list. That way I can start saying back to myself, "Now who's not productive, huh?!"

Get Physical

Reconnecting with the physical world can pull me out of a negative headspace. Exercising is the best way to reconnect with your body and distract your mind with something else for a while! Even just getting outside, noticing the bigger world around you will make those negative voices seem inconsequential. If you need a quick fix, though, and exercise or the outdoors aren't immediate options, just take a good look at what's in front of you. Your coffee cup. The table. Your dog. What do you hear around you? These are techniques used in meditation to help focus the mind on the here and now, and they will give you a reprieve from those pesky inner voices.

Get It Out

Author and researcher Brené Brown wrote, "If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive." This is an invaluable lesson! When your own mind is shaming you, find a way to share the story, whether it is telling a friend or even just writing it down. The negative, shaming words start to lose their power when you take them out of their natural habitat (your own mind) and replace them with "empathy and understanding". Feed yourself positive words such as "You are awesome/productive/enough/etc.”, whether they come from you or someone else.

It can be tempting to shy away from leaning on someone else for support, but do not worry that you will be burdening them with your feelings. It only becomes burdensome when you share your feelings without offering the same support and empathy to the other person. Find out what they're going through in case they need the same encouraging words in return!

The bottom line is: Give yourself a break! We could all use a little extra forgiveness and positivity in our lives, and often the place it should come from first is ourselves.