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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.

How to Always Choose Happiness Even During Tough Times Adapting to Change: Why It Matters and How to Do It 7 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of the Unknown And Get More Out of Life How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough Anxiety Coping Mechanisms That Work When You’re Stressed to the Max

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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