We think thousands of thoughts each day. The trouble with that is many of them are the same thoughts, day after day. If they are upbuilding and life affirming the effect is positive. You may still experience the sensation of not being able to shut off the incessant mind chatter but at least you will feel pretty good about yourself.
On the other hand if they are negative, derogatory and self-damning thoughts the effect will predictably be a loss of confidence and self-esteem. On top of it you still experience the constant mind chatter which can be tying in the best of circumstances.
Your goal is to improve your self-confidence and self-esteem. You read hundreds of self-help books. You change your hair and your clothes. You take up exercise and watch your diet. You do everything you can think of and still you aren’t feeling the way you had hoped.
“I’ll never be good enough. ” Who said that? You did, probably a hundred or so times a day. In different ways amongst the thousands of other thoughts you think during the day. Here are some of the others:
I’m so stupid.
I never do anything right.
I don’t deserve to have good things happen.
I’ll never meet anybody.
I can’t do it.
If only I was thinner, I would be happy.
I always embarrass myself.
I am sure you have some unique ones you can add to the above list. These are the negative statements we make quietly and insidiously to ourselves. We make them so often that it takes careful listening to pick them out. They bury themselves among the background music of repetitive thoughts in our heads.
If we don’t take the initiative to recognize and redirect these thoughts, there are not enough self-help books in the world that will cause us to raise our self-esteem and confidence. Reading them will not correct the underlying belief we have that we just don’t measure up. The pervasiveness of these recurring thoughts is too great and they will override any momentary uplifting affirmations we might recite.
Step one is to pick out what your negative thoughts are. Pay attention as you move throughout your day. These kinds of thoughts will often pop up when you are under stress or facing a new situation. Take note. If you can redirect the negative self-talk in the moment to a more positive statement do so. If you need to wait until later this does not let you off the hook. Take a moment at the end of the day and note the circumstances that triggered the negative thoughts.
Step two is to get an accurate perspective on the negative thoughts. Rarely are “always" and “never" type statements accurate; neither are the broad sweeping statements of I’m stupid, I’m worthless or I can’t. More often you may have some weaknesses in certain areas. You also have some strengths. Acknowledge them both, for if you can do that you can take steps to build up the areas where you feel a little weak.
Acknowledging the areas that you might choose to work on empowers you. The choice is in your hands. Having a weak area, an area in which you are not as confident does not define you as stupid or worthless. It does however provide you with useful information about a certain area of your life. You can then change your experience regarding that area by doing what it takes to change your weakness to strength.
If social situations or public speaking are your weakness, there are clubs that help you to increase your communication skills. If you are unsure of how to reach your goals it doesn’t mean you can never do anything right, perhaps you could use the service of a life or career coach.
Step three is to replace the negative thought with positive ones. When replacing the negative thoughts get specific. Instead of “I’m so stupid” try “I don’t know how to do that but my friend Anne knows a lot about it. I can ask her for help. ”
Make any positive affirmations you use specific as well. I trust that I will find the job that will allow me to practice my skills and unique attributes in a way that I can be of the greatest help is better than, I trust I will get a job.
Negative self-talk day after day is destructive. If you are the one repeating negative thoughts it is your choice and your responsibility to change. If you challenge yourself to make the change you will start to experience improving self-confidence and self-esteem. Something you wanted all along.
Maureen Staiano is a Life Coach specializing in working with women and the unique and challenging transitions we face in our lives. Please visit Maureen at: http://www.achieveyourdreamcoaching.com/