Not to sound all Stewart Smalley here (the “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough” guy), but I’ve recently discovered the power of positive self-talk. Or rather, the power of controlling my negative self-talk.
Like many people, I am quick to criticize myself.
After having a less-than-productive day: “I’m so lazy. What a loser.”
After a business meeting: “Ugh! I am just the most socially-awkward person on earth!”
After reflecting on a memory from my adolescence: “What a clueless freak! How did my parents tolerate me?”
I don’t know how I suddenly developed this skill, but lately I’ve been able to quickly counter those thoughts with things like:
“You are not a loser. Don’t say such cruel things to yourself.”
“You are definitely not the most awkward person on earth. In fact, for an extreme introvert, you do pretty well.”
“Adolescence is a difficult time for most people. No need to wallow in it 10+ years after the fact.”
I feel like a therapist or a school counselor when I say this (and frankly, this is somewhat out of character for me), but… be kind to yourself.
Sometimes people criticize themselves out loud, fishing for a compliment. Sometimes people act shy and humble when others praise them. Sometimes people feel more righteous if they self-flagellate and dwell on their sins and shortcomings.
I’m not really talking about any of those things. This is between you and you. Or perhaps between you and God. Can you imagine what God would reply to the bad things you say to yourself?
“Don’t talk about my child that way.”
“You are precious to me and have many special gifts.”
“I love you for exactly who you are.”
I wish I could remember who said this, but I read it just recently… Why do we accept criticism as truth and dismiss praise as empty words? What if we reversed that?
Be kind to yourself and open your ears to the kinder voices. Do you hear them?