Do you shower your friends with compliments, praise and approval? You probably do, because you know that it makes them feel proud, valued and respected. You see and understand the benefit of speaking positively to your friends when you see the happiness it brings them. It feels good to bring this joy to others, right? So, why is it so hard to speak to yourself this way? Being friends with yourself brings many positive benefits, both to yourself and to others.
For many of us, negative self-talk is a way of life.
Without realizing it, many of us willingly put ourselves in a self-made prison. It’s bad enough that we feel negatively about ourselves, but what’s worse is that we keep these negative beliefs going as we continually share these negative thoughts with our co-workers, friends, spouses, and even our children.
- How often do you hear yourself thinking or even saying, “I’m so dumb/lazy/fat”?
- Do you put yourself in a certain category, limiting yourself from going beyond it?
- Do you paint an unflattering picture of yourself in the minds of others?
Let’s take a deeper look at how your negative self-talk robs you of the freedom to make a positive impact on others, starting with your coworkers.
Why do you allow others so much more freedom?
Have you ever said something you didn’t intend to say at a meeting? Maybe that report you submitted wasn’t your best or maybe you handled a situation in a way that wasn’t the most effective. Did you react by berating yourself, letting others know just how terrible your actions were?
What message did your coworkers receive with all that negativity and what purpose is there in having them see you as less than a valuable resource and integral part of the team? Of course you want to take responsibility for any mistakes, but all that self-punishment is when we’ve taken it way too far.
If this had happened to a coworker, chances are you would have been quick to encourage them that the office is better because of their input. You would probably be determined to point out that they are needed, possibly downplaying any mistakes they may have made. Yet, when in the same position, you easily magnify any mistakes of your own.
We all make mistakes, but magnifying them makes more of the mistake, while making less of us.
Next, let’s look at how failing to speak positively about yourself affects your friends.
We teach others how to treat us. When you speak negatively about yourself, you’re setting the tone for others to do the same. When you don’t value or respect yourself, others will learn to follow your example.
For parents, this is an especially important lesson about what we’re teaching our children. If we’re overly critical of ourselves, our children will learn to do the same to themselves... and to you.
You hold the key that will set you free, allowing yourself – and others – to enjoy being in your company.
Ask yourself, would you want to spend all of your time and energy trying to boost someone else’s self-esteem or would you rather laugh together and enjoy their company? Of course no one is happy all the time and it doesn’t benefit anyone to pretend things are okay when they’re not. We’re talking about speaking negativity and berating yourself continually as a pattern of speaking and a way of life.
How are you speaking about yourself to your spouse or significant other?
We want our relationships to bring us joy, satisfaction, enrichment and fulfillment. We naturally want to feel loved, respected, and appreciated.
What messages are you sending when you willingly call yourself names or place unattractive labels on yourself? When you aren’t showing yourself love and respect, pointing out all of your imperfections, what messages are being sent and received by the one you love?
Of course, no one’s perfect, but by finding a way to love your uniqueness, idiosyncrasies and quirkiness, others will love them too. If we think we’re something special, that feeling radiates to those around us. What you speak about yourself plays a huge part in how others think and speak about you.
- Remember, you are your children’s greatest role model
- You have the opportunity to impact the lives of others every day
- Speaking to yourself, the way you would speak to a friend is a gift you give yourself and others
- You want others to accept, love and appreciate themselves, so give yourself that same permission
If you’ve been speaking negatively about yourself, learning how to speak more positively can take some practice. If you’ve been doing this for some time now, those habits are a part of you and it’ll take some awareness around when you’re doing it and how to stop.
Here are a few suggestions to get the process started:
- Give yourself a break! Find all of those amazing qualities you have and realize how much value you add to people within your care and reach
- Wear a “reminder band” and give it a gentle tug whenever you speak negatively about yourself –
- ]followed up by a thought that’s kinder and more compassionate
- See yourself as someone important – because you are!
- Begin speaking to yourself the way you would speak to a friend, your child, your spouse or anyone else you admire and respect
It doesn’t matter what strategy you use to speak more positively about yourself – it only matters that you do – and you’ll be amazed to see how good it feels.
Photo from here, with thanks.