You look in the mirror as you get dressed and wish your body was different. Or you beat yourself up for not doing enough. Negative self talk is so subtle the habit slips up on us.
We get used to pressing play on all those negative messages we start to believe them. Before we know it our confidence is shaken and we feel like a shadow of a person. And I know you don’t want that. So, today we’re going to talk about how to overcome negative self talk.
How to Overcome Negative Self Talk
I had no idea just how bad my negative self talk habit had become until one day when I got fed up with a dead magnolia tree…
Recognize the Bad Habit
The day started like any other, with me watching the wind move through the trees just outside my bedroom window.
This peaceful moment was rudely interrupted when my gaze fell on several dead leaves hanging onto the trunk of a small magnolia tree. They’d been there for awhile. I walked past them every time I checked the mail or walked our dog, Britt.
I didn’t realize it in the moment, but every time I walked past those dead leaves, my spirit sank. For whatever reason, I felt stuck with that magnolia tree. It hadn’t dawned on me that I wasn’t.
Face the Problem
Why did I tolerate it for so long? I honestly think it’s because I was too overwhelmed by my withering, dying plants. It was like a giant looming over me, and I just didn’t have the energy to face it. But something in me shifted that morning. I threw on some workout clothes, grabbed my shovel from the garage, and walked through my living room out the front door.
The ground was hard and dry. The magnolia tree had grown deeper roots than I’d expected, but eventually I pulled that tree out of the ground.
By the time I walked back through my house with the shovel, I felt free and satisfied, like I’d just won a battle.
Be Willing to Be Vulnerable
I couldn’t know just how freeing it was until the next morning when I turned over in my bed to watch the wind blow through the trees. This time there was sunshine and clear, blue skies where the dead magnolia stood the day before. My world felt more open, more expansive.
My tendency in this very vulnerable, open space is to quickly fill it up with something, anything. In this case, flowers. But, something in me felt like I was supposed to wait, to sit in this vacant space and hold it open.
Resist the Temptation of the Familiar
Are you afraid of space? Is sounds like a silly question with an obvious answer, but after spending some time sitting in emptiness, I have to admit, I’m scared of space. Of openness.
It’s very uncomfortable and a lot intimidating. We’re filled with questions like ,“What does it represent? What’s going to fill it up? When will it fill it up? Will it fill up by itself or do I need to do something?”
But as I held this space open for myself to think, dig and pray, negative self talk was unearthed.
Where Does Negative Self Talk Come From?
I grew up believing appearance was everything. That being pretty counted…a lot. So, it’s no wonder that watching my former self give way to motherhood, hypothyroidism, chronic inflammation, and eventually middle age, has been really hard to accept. Looking in the mirror every morning has been like standing before a beauty contestant judge who marks off points because:
- I’m not thin enough.
- My face is too puffy. The extra weight makes me look like a potato head.
- That my skin is too loose, my eyelids too droopy, and the dark circles under my eyes make me look worn and haggard.
- My stomach is way too big, and my arms are embarrassingly flabby, so maybe I shouldn’t go sleeveless.
But, the judge was me.
How to Stop Feeling Negatively About Yourself
I was horrified when I realized how cruel I was being to myself. All that negative self-talk day in and day out, and I never even realized it because it’s the only voice I knew. It was like a tape that had been playing so long it became permanent background noise.
Acknowledge Your Needs
For me, the empty space the magnolia left behind represented a need in me that needed to be expressed. Digging it up made room for my needs to rise to the surface, break ground and be seen.
I felt like I’d been waiting in a never-ending line for acceptance and suddenly realized I’d been holding the stamp of approval the whole time.
Once your recognize the underlying need, and realize just how destructive that tape of negative self-talk has been, try apologizing to yourself and ask for forgiveness.
Replace the Negative Self Talk
When you do this, you get to claim this territory as holy ground. In other words, you’ll replace negative self-talk with truth and self-love.
This new territory will feel uncomfortable, but it sure is better than bombarding yourself with negativity.
Wishing you the beauty that comes from overcoming what no longer serves you,