Don’t Believe Everything You Tell Yourself by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
Most of us have no bigger critic than ourselves. We can have nine successes and a single failure, and the failure will be what we remember every time. These negative messages we send ourselves can be extremely detrimental and can hold us back from achieving our goals and being our best selves. That’s why it’s so important not to believe everything you tell yourself.
When you’re dealing with information about others, you generally look for the facts before making a judgment. Yet, we are quick to accept incorrect negative self-talk. The next time you start critiquing yourself, apply the facts to your critique. Here are some questions to ask.
- Is it true? Are you really failing, or lazy, or less competent than others? I bet not. In fact, I bet if you met yourself disguised as someone else, you’d think you were pretty cool. Look at the facts of all you’ve accomplished before you accept your own negative messages.
- Are you comparing yourself to others unfairly? Another trap we often fall into is comparison. Someone else has probably accomplished more than you, or accomplished what you desire in a shorter time frame. These may be facts, but these don’t really apply to you and what you wish to accomplish because it isn’t a contest. As long as you are moving forward toward your goals, there’s no reason to compare your timing to that of anyone else. In addition, it’s not uncommon to judge yourself more harshly for a mistake than you would judge anyone else.
- Write down positive statements. Take the time to write down your accomplishments and your positive characteristics. When you feel like you aren’t good enough, or accomplishing enough, pull out those statements and remind yourself of how great you really are. Many therapists recommend speaking your accomplishments and positive qualities out loud to yourself in the mirror, as well.
Negative patterns of self-talk get in the way of your happiness, your self-esteem and your ability to accomplish your goals. Remember to ensure what you say about yourself is true, and that you don’t judge yourself more harshly than you would others in the same situation. Being fair to yourself is just as important as being fair to others.