I haven’t met anyone yet who, at some point in their life, hasn’t gone through a time when they struggled with “stinkin’ thinkin'”, which is another way of saying negative self-talk.
If you’ve never struggled with telling yourself you’re not good enough, you aren’t smart enough or pretty enough or no one loves you or you beat yourself up over something you did or didn’t do…..you probably don’t need to read this post! :o)
If you’re like everyone I’ve ever met, this is something you’ve dealt with at some point in your life and today, I’d like to share 11 ways you can turn off that negative voice in your head and start thinking more positively.
Heck, by the time we’re done, you may even like…..or better yet, LOVE yourself! :o)
1. The first and arguably the most important step to escaping self-judgement is to decide you’re going to change the way you talk to yourself. You will need to make a committed decision because it isn’t easy and takes a lot of effort to turn your thinking patterns around!
2. Understand you have these thoughts for a reason and believe it or not, they want what’s best for you. When you realize that voice that calls you “stupid” or “lazy” is the part of you that wants you to do better – that is concerned about the path you’re on and the outcome you’ll produce if things don’t change, it begins to bring down your walls or resistance. Granted, the voice doesn’t sound or feel loving or supportive and that’s because it was never taught how to encourage us to our greatness without being critical. We have to teach it. (More on that in #10.)
3. Understand you can’t change what happened in the past. If you’re living your life continually beating yourself up over the things that happened last week, last year or 30 years ago, you need to realize that you are causing negative results to follow you around like a little lost puppy. They will forever be in your shadow if you don’t find a way to let it go. (We’re working on that here, so keep reading!)
Here’s where it starts getting tough:
4. Make a list of everything you like about yourself. I know – this one is hard if you’re in a negative mindset about yourself…..do it anyway. The first time I tried this was when I was going through my divorce…..and I thought of two things I liked – just two. Keep the paper and spend 10 minutes every night thinking about more things to add to this list – I don’t care how big or small. It won’t take too long to start seeing a list of things that help you to feel just a little bit better about yourself.
5. List the things you are good at. (I told you it would start getting tougher!) Use the same tactic you’re using in #4 – start the list with whatever you can think of and then devote some time every day to building the list. Yes, “I can blow bubbles” or “I can whistle” are completely acceptable! :o)
6. GRATITUDE! Devote some time every day to listing those things for which you are grateful. If you have to start with “air to breath” and “a roof over my head” – that will do. Try not to list the same things over and over so that it becomes mechanical. While you are considering what you are grateful for, allow yourself to really feel the gratitude, joy, abundance, fulfillment, etc. that comes along with it.
7. This is one of my favorites! Create a Victory Log. Write down every success in an ongoing record. In the beginning, it could be as simple as “I controlled my temper during a heated discussion with my boss today.” This is how I started my log and now, I’m writing things like “I received a text today from an old co-worker who complimented my blog!” and “I’ve been invited to become a contributing author in a book!”
8. Sometimes, we are telling ourselves all kinds of negative stories about ourselves, when a simple shift in perception could render an entirely different story. For example, have you ever been laid off from a job? What did you tell yourself? You could have panicked and told yourself you’re not going to be able to pay your bills and you’re going to lose your house OR you could tell yourself being laid off is just the motivation you needed to search for a position in a field where you can love what you do and work with others who share in your passion.
9. I used to hear people say “you need to feel your feelings and then let them go.” What the heck does that mean anyway? I also heard a lot of “keep your attention on positive thoughts.” So, guess what I would do? When I caught myself thinking negatively or feeling sad/disappointed/upset/angry/etc. I would (as quickly as possible) shift my thinking to something good….essentially ignoring my feelings. It’s OKAY to have the feelings you’re having! Go to the gym and take your anger out on a punching bag or have a good cry. It’s OKAY! The important thing is to not get STUCK in the negative pattern of thinking this way. As you’re feeling the emotions, allow yourself to be working through them and then simply release them to the universe.
10. What do you do when you can’t simply let it go? This was a hard one for me too. I had a mentor who actually had me talk to myself as if I had multiple personalities. One personality was scared of not being able to build a successful business….and this side of me showed up more often than I care to admit. Fear of not having enough finances, not having the appropriate credentials, not having enough experience, having to go back to a full-time job…the list seemed pretty long! :o) I was to sit down and invite this scared “little girl” into my space, ask her questions, let her know we both want what’s best for me, we’re just seeing it from different perspectives, and really create a dialog. The point is to build trust and acceptance between these two sides of your consciousness and form a partnership. I know this sounds (and feels, by the way) totally crazy, but it really WORKS! I cleared a lot of negative thinking this way!
11. Last but not least, another exercise you can use is similar to #10, but a little more structured. If you were on my list back in December, we talked about the Total Truth Letter process to release guilt and resentment. This process is much like that, but with fewer steps.
You start with your negative thought: I’ll never lose weight.
Next, you apply this concept to 4 stages:
- Anger: I’m so angry with you for eating that huge piece of cake! You KNEW cake would be served because it was a birthday party and you STILL caved! I can’t believe you have NO will power at all!
- Fear: I’m really afraid that if you don’t get your eating habits under control you’re going to put all the weight we’ve worked so hard to lose back on and you’re going to end up back at the doctor’s office with another health scare! I really want you to be around to walk your daughter down the isle!
- Requests: What I would really like is for you to think ahead the next time and either make a committed decision to stick to your diet at the party OR exercise extra long on the day of the party to allow for the extra calories.
- Love: I love you and care about you, your health and your future. I want you to be around for many years to come, to have the energy to play with your grandkids and be able to travel with your wife. You deserve to be totally happy and full of life!
There are so many ways to retrain your thinking about yourself – these are simply those that have worked best for me. Feel free to try these or look for others, but please…..take the time – make the commitment to love yourself! :o)