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Last Updated on October 8, 2018

How to End Negative Self Talk and Reinvent Your Self Image

How to End Negative Self Talk and Reinvent Your Self Image

The types of conversations you have with yourself determine how you live your life.

The way you choose to think and speak about yourself (to yourself and others), IS A CHOICE! You may have spent your whole life talking about yourself in a negative way, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue that path.” ― Miya Yamanouchi

If the conversations in your head are negative, then the chances are high that you will be not living your life to your full potential.

Everyone has their own story to tell as to the impact negative self-talk has had on their lives. Many of us have allowed ourselves to be controlled by our negative self-talk for years.

The consequence of this is that we create a poor self -image of ourselves and we truly believe that this is our reality. When in fact this poor self-image we have of ourselves is all made up in our heads- it is not at all who we truly are.

“You need to be your own cheer squad not your own worst enemy.” ― Miya Yamanouchi

There is no magic formula to turning your life around. If it were that easy then everyone would be choosing to live his or her life to the fullest. Negative self-talk and self-doubt would be eliminated.

To become your own “cheer squad” involves a journey of learning on how to love yourself and take care of yourself so that you can live your life to the fullest.

What is Negative Self-Talk?

Negative self-talk is the voice inside our head commonly known as our inner critic, that essentially repeats back to us how “bad” we truly are.

A great inner critic will convince us to truly believe that we are “bad, dumb, ugly, fat, skinny, terrible, useless, quirky and a failure”.

Your negative self-talk limits your ability to believe in yourself and in you ability to reach your true potential.

Any negative thought that questions you, your confidence and your ability to make positive changes in your life is a sign that your inner critic at work.

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Listening to and believing what your inner critic tells you can be not only stressful but it can prevent you from living your life to your fullest potential.

When you do achieve a more positive view of yourself, your self-belief, your confidence and resilience grows and as a result your life becomes more fulfilled and happier.

“Take positive care of your mind, and it would surely take positive care of your life.” ― Edmond Mbiaka

What Causes Negative Talk

Carl Rogers, an early pioneer of Positive Psychology, believed that people were always in the process of changing and growing. He believed that all people possess an inherent need to grow and achieve their potential. He called this self–actualization and is that leads people to pursue happiness and fulfilment.

Rogers believed that to successfully strive for self-actualization a person needed to have the three components of Self Concept connected together.

Self Concept was the term Rogers used to refer to how a person thinks about, evaluates and perceives him or herself. Rogers said that Self Concept has three components:

  1. Self Image – how you see yourself
  2. Self Esteem – the extent to which you value yourself
  3. Ideal Self – what you wish you were really like

The formation of a healthy self-concept, according to Rogers, is an ongoing process shaped by a person’s life experiences.

People with a stable sense of self tend to have greater confidence and cope more effectively with life’s challenges. People who had more unstable lives and more traumatic life experiences tended to have a more pessimistic view of themselves.

Rogers believed that people intuitively want to be in the process of changing and growing. Those people whose lives are controlled by their inner critic do have a number of hurdles to overcome before they can take up the challenge of personal change and growth:

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

As Carl Rogers pointed out, the first step to change your thinking about who you are is to accept yourself faults and all and then you can begin to take the steps to change.

How I Got Over My Negative Self Talk

There have been many times that I have listened to and believed my inner self-critic to a point that it has crippled my life.

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I have failed in business and been fired from three jobs in less than 18 months. As a result my self-belief and my confidence was at an all time low.

My inner self-critic would highlight all the negative aspects of my life, which again reinforced the fact that I was a failure.

I am not going to list all the bad conversations I would have in my head about how terrible I was, all I will say is that every time things or events or anything did not go well I blamed myself. The pressure and stress that I was creating in my life was incredible.

I am naturally an optimistic person. However, life throws you curve balls that come from nowhere. There are times in our lives where these curveballs keep coming and it feels like you are being battered about with no rest.

There is actually no time to recover – well it feels like that. It is at times of stress and adversity that our negative self-talk starts to dominate our lives. The conversations we are having with ourselves a full of doom and gloom.

So how long do we allow ourselves to live in a world of doom and gloom? When we accept that our reality is to live unfulfilled life? Where we truly believe that we deserve this life because our self worth is at an all time low?

For me, being optimistic is only so much stress and pain I can put up with. I had been feeling so bad about myself and my life for so long that I finally got to a point where I asked myself – “will it get worse or can it get better?”

I chose to go down the path of making my life better. I wanted to live a life where I was flourishing and feeling good about myself.

3 Critical Steps to Manage Your Negative Self Talk

So what did I do to reinvent my self- image? There are 3 critical steps that I took to manage my inner self-critic so that I had more control over my life. I believe that if you take these 3 critical steps your journey to reinvent your life is pretty much guaranteed!

Please remember that improving your self-belief and self-image takes time and it will NOT happen overnight but it will happen if you embrace your journey of change.

1. Commit To Taking Action

“Struggle ends where commitment begins.” ― Sumner Davenport

This quote by Sumner Davenport illustrates the importance of commitment when it comes to transforming your life.

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Once you commit to your journey of change, then the daily struggle and daily pain that you are living with will eventually disappear.

Your fears and feelings of negativity will be replaced with the feelings of success, happiness and joy. You will feel more enlightened, optimistic and hopeful about your life and your future.

Life will still continue to throw your curveballs however you will be more resilient and have greater ability to navigate your way through the challenges that life deals to you.

For me, I decided that I had enough of living my life controlled by my fears and my self-doubt. I felt I was paralyzed and too scared to take action. That’s when I took action and made the decision that I was going to change the way I lived my life.

I didn’t know how but I knew that I didn’t want to live controlled by my fears and negative thinking anymore. I found this quote wrote it down and then stuck it on my wall.

This was the first step I took to committing to change the way I lived my life. Every morning I would look at this quote and say to myself “today is going to be a great day and I an truly grateful for the opportunities that are going to come my way. Each day I am taking one step closer to achieving my goals and dreams to living my life to my fullest potential”.

2. Start Using Your Power of Choice

The journey to living life being the best person you can be starts with you. It starts with you using a wonderful gift called the Power of Choice, which we all have and yet some of us are afraid to use.

Using your power of choice means that you have to step out of your comfort zone. If you choose to do nothing and keep the status quo you will keep getting the same results.

Use your power of choice to empower you to start living life the way you want live it. Your Power of Choice is the one thing you have that you control and using it wisely will enable you to live your life being the best version of yourself.

When you are faced with a situation that is outside your comfort zone and the inner critic is starting to question you and your ability challenge yourself by asking questions such as:

  • What is the evidence for and against my thinking?
  • Are my thoughts factual or just my interpretation?
  • How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
  • Do these thoughts stop me from achieving my goals?
  • If I were being positive, what would I be thinking?
  • Is this situation as bad as I am making it out to be?
  • What is the worst and what is the best thing that could happen?
  • Would this matter in 1 week, or 2 months or 1 year or 5 years?

There are many more questions you could ask however you must always be challenging yourself by asking your inner critic, “why not?” Then using your power of choice to take action.

3. Use The 5 Second Rule To Embrace Change In Your Life

The one thing that is a given in your life is change. There is no way you can expect to live your life and not experience any change.

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Our inner self-critic is our protection against change. It is the voice inside our heads that will resist change for as long as it can. The longer you listen to your inner self-critic that more paralysed your life will be to responding to and embracing change.

The journey to embracing change and managing your inner self-critic is a process. It is like training for a marathon. Nobody goes and runs a marathon with no preparation and training.

Training involves you getting not only your body fit but you also getting your mind fit. Your mind has to believe that all the training that you are doing is preparing you to successfully achieve your goal – which is to run a marathon.

So you have a choice here – if you don’t manage your self-critic or self doubt then your chances of successfully achieving your goal will be limited.

The 5 Second Rule transformed my life! It is a very simple tool that allows you take control of your inner self critic and take action. If you have a desire to act on a goal or make a commitment you must take action within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it

When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.

There is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind killing it. It’s a 5 second window. And it exists for everyone.

If you do not take action on your instinct to change, you will stay stagnant. You will not change.

The Bottom Line

Using the advice above will empower you to take action so you can live your life to your fullest potential – with confidence, self belief, courage and a positive outlook on life.

Your inner self-critic will never go away but by taking action and committing to making changes in your life – you will have the power to choose the conversations you have with your inner self-critic.

The 5-second rule is a powerful tool that will enable you to manage your inner self-critic in a way where the negative conversations have no influence or impact on your thinking or on your life. Your inner self-critic will definitely become a very quiet small voice in the background.

“Your inner critic is simply a part of you that needs more self-love.” ― Amy Leigh Mercree, The Compassion Revolution: 30 Days of Living from the Heart

Featured photo credit: Chad Madden via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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