Many people are victims to negative self-talk. Even if you read this and think, pfft… not me. However, pay attention to how many times you say or think something negative about yourself over the course of a day. I’m willing to bet it’s more than what you might realize.
I recently read Chasing Perfection by Rachel Brooks. It’s all about a woman’s journey of how a vicious spiral of abuse led to low self-esteem and negative self-talk, which nearly cost her, her life.
It wasn’t until I read her story did I realize how much I do this to myself… This realization actually surprised me. As a successful business owner and confident woman myself, I didn’t realize how much negative self-talk does affect me, and how it has likely been a negative factor in relationships.
So, after a period of self-reflection and care over the 2020 holiday season, here’s what I discovered about myself. If you struggle with negative self-talk and self-limiting beliefs, feel free to jump to the section on how to combat it.
The Journey to the Top is a Lonely One…
If you’ve been reading my blogs and following my story (thank you!), then you know that I have officially been a business owner since 2011, and I finally quit my “corporate” job to focus on my business full time in May 2017.
I no longer have to commute (if I don’t want to), I don’t have a boss (sort of), and I can make my own schedule (most of the time).
Any business owner will tell you that there is good and bad to owning and operating a business. It’s one of the most rewarding careers on the face of the planet, but it comes with a significant cost. No one sees the insane sacrifices that we have to make, such as working early mornings, late nights, and weekends, or even covering some business-related expenses with personal funds until that client payment comes in.
…nevermind losing paid time off and benefits…
My Family Hates Me…
I will be honest and say that many of those things I was prepared to deal with, but one area that I was not prepared for was losing friends, relationships, or support from my own family…
Now, most would think that if you made a giant leap to do something good and awesome with your life and take the road less traveled that the people who supposedly love you and support you no matter what.
Nope. Not for me.
I’ve had people within my circle whom I have trusted call me “selfish”, a “workaholic”, and other putdowns. My own family has spread rumors about me, ignored me, talked about me behind my back, and even made outrageous claims. My personal favorite? I paid off my loans, credit card debt, bought property and the cars I wanted, and funded a business because I’ve “had my hands in my parents’ pockets for years”…
Believe it or not… what I have described above came from grown adults, which is ironic, since rumors, ignoring and shunning people, and talking about others are all things I dealt with in high school…
Is it really that hard to believe that a single woman in her 30s can make her own money—and be successful?
And, since when is working hard and being passionate about life a bad thing?
All in all, after years and years and years of people who supposedly “love” me hurt me physically and emotionally, stomp all over my success, and write me off like I’m nothing have affected me mentally and emotionally—more than I’m willing to admit.
As a result, I now experience periodic (okay, sometimes daily) moments of self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. After much reflection and study, I’ve really had to retrain my brain and correct my thinking.
If you are reading this and you are struggling with similar issues, here are some tips that can hopefully help you.
How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk and Limiting Beliefs
1. Find an accountability partner. For me, this was a no brainer—my best friend since high school. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to combat negative self-talk, and whenever I have moments when I catch myself feeling or talking negatively to myself, I text him and he talks me through it.
2. Start a journal. Whenever I have a negative thought cross through my mind over the course of a day, I try to write it down in my journal immediately (if possible), or use the “video memo” feature on my iPhone, if I’m driving. This allows me to get my thought out into the universe, deal with it, and correct it before it has a chance to sting, sink, and settle.
After writing my thoughts down, or speaking them aloud, I then follow up and write down or say at least three things about me that are awesome, and three reasons debunking that thought.
3. Form a “happiness plan”. Take some time to think about what really makes you happy. If you aren’t sure, think about the last time you had a really awesome day. What was so great about it? Why? What steps did you take to make it awesome? What steps could you replicate in the future?
Happiness is all about the power of intention.
4. Remind yourself daily that only you are YOU. Taking a line or two from The Happiness Plan, by Carmel McConnell, tell yourself that you’re gorgeous or handsome. Remind yourself that only you can be YOU, in your own individual, unique way. No one has even been you before, and no one will be like you even after you’re gone. You have the choice to live a legacy. So… LIVE IT!
5. Look at risks as opportunities. No pain, no gain. No risk, no reward. We’ve all heard these phrases. You might pass them off as cliche, but there’s a real, true meaning behind them. Rather than look at a potentially risky situation, and hyper focus on what could go wrong, take some time to think about what could go right. Notice how your perspective changes.
The best opportunities and the most rewarding scenarios often come from what were once greatest risks. Let go of the negative self-limiting beliefs and stop saying “I can’t do that…” Because you’re only hurting yourself. If you tell yourself you can’t do something before you even try, then you’re right—because you already told yourself you can’t.
6. Stop taking things personally. This is something I struggle with… a lot. I used to harp on what others say, do—or don’t say or don’t do—and take it personally or think that I’ve done something wrong. And, I admit, I still have moments of weakness when others’ words or actions really get the best of me and ruin my entire day.
Well, no more.
The advice I give to you, and the sad truth is, people are always going to judge you—even if they say they won’t. The best thing you can do? Stop caring. I know it’s easy to say, but focus on doing YOU, and loving the process.
7. Be confident. Again, another one that might be easier said than done. But this point and the previous one kind of go hand in hand. Finding confidence means:
- Stop worrying
- Stop fearing failure
- Letting go of past events
- Building healthy boundaries
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Building strong relationships and letting the toxic ones go
- Doing what makes you happy and letting the world respond
8. Help others. If you are in an unhealthy state of people-pleasing (again, another one I personally struggle with…), or in a constant state of seeking approval from others, you are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment and heartache. (Trust me.)
Shift your focus to doing things for others. Send an encouraging text to a friend. Deliver food to a neighbor. Get involved in your community. These activities allow you to take the focus off yourself (and what others think of you) and put your energy toward doing good, which in turn, allows you to feel good. In fact, sometimes even just being in the presence of others can boost your self-image and your outlook. Your presence is powerful enough to inspire and encourage others, even if you don’t know it.
9. Do daily affirmations. This might be cliche but it works. Before the weight of the day can overwhelm you, take the time to list out just three to five things that you love about yourself and that you are grateful for. You’d be surprised at how this simple thing can transform your entire day, and how you see and feel about yourself. In fact, sometimes even just reminding yourself, yes, I matter is all you need to hear (even if it’s from yourself).
10. Build better habits. Of course, the suggestions listed above are merely suggestions. The best way to conquer negative self-talk, self-limiting beliefs, and even poor self-esteem is to build better habits to support self-love, gratitude, and your sense of purpose.
Quality Over Quantity
All in all, I really had to retrain my brain and change my thinking. And now, a decade later, I’ve significantly grown as a person. I’ve learned the importance of boundaries, what I can control, and what I can’t. And one thing that I constantly remind myself is that I can’t control other people, their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I used to take responsibility for how others act and react, and take it personally.
Rather than focus my attention and energy on worrying about what people are thinking or saying about me, I instead shift that focus to my closest friends—those who have been there through thick and thin—and would never give up on me or ignore me for stupid reasons. If they had a problem with me, or if I did something wrong or made a mistake, I know they have the courage to act like an adult and talk to me about it.
For example, my clients love me, and my team loves me. I’ve had clients tell me how much of a difference I have made in their businesses and their lives, and I’ve had my own team members tell me that they love coming to work. I’m truly blessed to surround myself with such awesome people every day in my professional life.
You can do the same. Surround yourself with people just like this, and notice the difference.
As for my family, of course I still love them, but their problems with me are really about themselves. I refuse to let them impact my self-worth. If they can’t see how awesome of a person I am, and how much good I do every day, then they aren’t worth my time or energy.
Although my personal network is small, and my professional network is vast, both are filled with quality, awesome relationships that I wouldn’t change or give up for the world.
“Single for a Year”: A Journey of Healing
As far as my “Single for a Year” journey, it’s a journey of healing. I’ve learned that self-love and self-esteem are crucial to a successful intimate relationship. Although I would call myself a relatively confident person, I realized that, like everyone, there are some dark parts. I am focusing on healing those dark parts so I can be a truly healthy and fulfilled partner for whomever I’m in a relationship with in the future.
If I can do it, you can, too.