Yesterday we talked about insecurity. Insecurity is a necessary and inevitable human experience. It is "normal" and expected. Feelings of insecurity actually provide us with an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and grow and evolve as people... IF we are willing to (1) acknowledge the insecurities (2) try to understand them (3) try to learn from them (4) be willing to let them go.
Today is all about how to deal with the insecurities we feel, by breaking down how we treat ourselves internally. It is important to remember that treating ourselves well is one of the best things we can do for our mental health, and it pertains to both our physical bodies and our mental and emotional selves. How you talk to yourself is no less important than diet, exercise, and rest. This is the focus of today's article.
Self-talk is simply this: what we say to ourselves! Self-talk can be both positive (healthy/helpful) or negative (unhealthy/unhelpful). It is important to examine the things we tell ourselves, both positive and negative. Sometimes the messages we think are positive end up not being accurate or helpful at all!
For the purposes of dealing with insecurity through self-talk, I'll break things down into two separate processes. This is the typical process I go through if I am continuing to struggle with feelings of insecurity in a particular area of myself/my life, or just in general.
The first process in developing truly positive and helpful self-talk:
1. AWARENESS: be willing and able to examine your own thoughts. Ask yourself: what are the things you are telling yourself, either about yourself or about your ability to approach a situation. In other words, what are the messages you tell yourself?
2. Try to identify where these messages came from. A past experience? Directly from someone else? From family generational patterns? From what you perceived society communicates? From your core belief system about yourself and about life? From a higher power (if that's what you believe)?
3. Ask yourself: Is it true? You must be willing to be SUPER honest with yourself here!
4. Ask yourself: how is this message serving me? How is it working for me to tell myself these things? Is it a band-aid and makes me feel better temporarily, and then the same insecurity pops up again in a different situation, even louder than before? Is it making me feel worse? Is it creating additional unhelpful thoughts, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, or leading me to engage in unhealthy behavior patterns? Or is it truly helping me move past the current feeling of insecurity and difficulty, allowing me to learn more about myself and my needs and grow as a person?
The second process in developing truly positive and helpful self-talk:
1. Choose to make an effort to show yourself love, kindness, compassion, acceptance, respect, forgiveness, and patience. You will never get to a point in which you do these things 100% of the time. It's not about getting to 100%. It's about the effort, and daily effort. If you commit to this CHOICE, you will have no problem developing patterns of positive self-talk!
2. Learn to be okay with imperfection. You are not perfect. If there was such a thing as perfect, it would be boring and if you were perfect, there would be no reason to grow and you would basically be stuck in one place for the rest of your life. When we can accept our imperfections, flaws, weaknesses, challenges, downfalls, etc., we can work to improve! It is the lack of acknowledging our humanness that keeps us stuck in unhealthy emotional and behavioral patterns.
3. Refer back to step 4 of the first process. You'll need to identify the messages that need to be tossed in the trash and the messaged that can be salvaged. For the messages that need to be trashed, try this message: "you are no longer helpful or needed, and you can go now" and allow yourself to let it go. Picture that thought leaving your mind and body and simply disappearing, or maybe going into a giant trash bin, or down a garbage disposal - whatever you need to do with the thought. This will take practice! I suggest meditation and visualization, it works wonders for me. Don't forget how powerful your brain is. You ARE able to let these thoughts go!
4. Take the "salvaged messages" and tweak them in ways that are helpful to you. What do you truly need to hear? To modify these existing messages and to create new positive self-talk messages, look for inspiration and suggestions from your loved ones, mentors, or positive material online. (Hint: feel free to use the photo I posted with this blog, and modify it to yourself and your needs). Maybe you simply need to hear from yourself, "you are okay, and you are loved." Write all of these positive self-talk messages down. Use a journal if you'd like. Write them on your bathroom mirror. Change the background on your phone or computer. Make these messages visible to you on a daily basis, and state these as affirmations to yourself every single day. You may not believe yourself at first, but with practice, repetition, and consistency, I promise that you will start to feel differently. The messages will begin to integrate into your everyday thoughts, and hopefully become somewhat automatic.
*REMEMBER that this is NOT an easy process. Many of the thoughts we have and the messages we tell ourselves are deeply ingrained and have been with us for a very long time! This is not a one-time process where we magically rid ourselves of negative self-talk and develop permanent positive self-talk patterns. Throughout life, we will experience moments in which old thought patterns will pop up, and we will experience those familiar feelings of insecurity. We will also continually discover things we do not like about ourselves, or weaknesses we may have, and THIS IS GOOD because then we have an opportunity to improve! And isn't that what being a human being is about? Evolving?! This is about a lifelong journey of bringing these things to awareness so that we can CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE what we want to do with these messages and how we want to move forward.
Self-talk is extremely powerful. It has a direct impact on what we think, how we feel, and how we function in all aspects of life (work, home, relationships, etc.). It ALSO has a direct impact on our level of happiness and success in life. I will leave you will some of my favorite quotes related to self-talk:
"What we tell ourselves every day will either lift us up or tear us down." -Unknown
"We are defined by the stories we tell ourselves." -Tony Robbins
"We are the stories we tell ourselves." -Joan Didion
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