Sometimes decluttering and self-care has to start in my head. There is so much loose stuff in there just floating around.
To get stuff out, doing a brain dump is always a good idea. But what to do with the thoughts that are not necessarily actionable? I’m referring to self-talk and self-doubt.
If you’re anything like me, your brain is going a hundred kilometres an hour and it’s not always pretty in there, especially when thinking about yourself or your abilities.
Spoiler alert, this post is about to get personal.
Truth is, I am my worst critic and I struggle with self-confidence and I’m not sure why. Could be the way I was brought up, could be something I picked up along the way or it could even be because I’m an introvert or just the way my brain is wired. Who knows and frankly who cares where exactly it comes from?
All I know is, the way I talk to myself in my head, and sometimes out loud to the people closest to me, is startling. I would never talk to anyone that way, so why the hell to I do that to myself?
The stories I tell myself are destructive and limiting, to say the least:
- I’m no expert.
- I have nothing new to say.
- Who am I to give advice?
A therapist I consulted way back told me about Performance Anxiety AKA Stage Fright. In my case, it goes beyond the prospect of having to present before an audience (which usually makes me want to cry at best). It manifests itself in any situation where I’m “in front“; from having to introduce myself, to putting myself “out there“ with this blog.
I’ve made some progress along the way of course, but the nagging voice in my head is ever present by reminding me I might not have enough expertise, credibility or anything worthy to say. Often times I tend to reduce my achievements thinking, if I’ve done it anybody can, and blowing out of proportion other people’s accomplishments by comparison.
Things I do to quiet negative self-talk
All of this is based on fear of course; fear of not being enough mostly. This fear might never go away, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do anything to feel better and turn the restrictive self-talk to positive.
1. Talk to someone I trust
Connecting with people I love and trust is the surest way for me to break the isolation that negative self-talk creates in my mind.
When I start spinning towards the bottom, asking a friend what they think about a situation often helps me uncover a side of the story I hadn’t considered.
2. Distract myself the right way
So, I’m not talking about binge watching on Netflix, although occasionally that helps too, I’m talking about putting the topic that’s having me question myself to the side, so I can focus on more positive thoughts for a moment.
Sometimes, when you’re getting energized by something else, that’s when the solutions come.
3. Flip the script
This is a trick the therapist I was seeing gave me and it’s based on behavioural therapy. It may feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. I keep this technique for when things get really bad in my head.
Essentially, the idea is to neutralize the thought that’s been going around and around in your head, or in other words to focus on the facts and not the emotions. You may have to write stuff down to help you at first.
Here is an example from my stories:
- Negative thought: I have nothing new to say.
- Questions to neutralize: What are people actually saying about my writing?
- Facts: People say they like my voice, that my suggestions are inspiring.
- New thought: I can use my voice to present subjects in a new light.
4. Repeat a Mantra
Choosing and repeating a simple mantra like I Am Capable or I Am Enough can help alleviate the anxiety that occasionally come with negative self-talk. I also like to repeat I Have Everything I Need when I feel like I’m lacking in any way
Find something that works for you and feel true. You’ll know you’ve found it when your body relaxes when you repeat it in your head.
Further reading on self-talk:
Self-care is not always obvious to incorporate in our routine. I hope this month’s theme has inspired you to consider self-care and positive self-talk as essential and part of your success.