In the previous blog post, I talked about how our words can hurt others. In fact, our OWN words can hurt us just as much (or more).
How often do we tell ourselves that we can’t do something? How often do we tell ourselves that we’re not pretty enough, smart enough, brave enough, strong enough? If you tell yourself something often enough, you will eventually convince yourself that it is true.
The other day, I tried to perform a task on the computer and found myself struggling to make the machine do what I wanted. After several minutes of frustration, I finally stopped and told myself that I am not smart enough to do this. As soon as the thought was complete, I realized that it wasn’t true. I said cancel, cancel, cancel, out loud, to tell myself this is not what I want. Then again out loud, I restated my thought to “I have not yet learned how to use the computer for this task”.
The first thought was not true. The second one was. I think it’s important to correct the little things like that when you catch them. It helps to retrain the brain so that this kind of negative self-talk becomes less frequent in the future.
These little thoughts are like drops of water dripping into your subconscious…drip, drip, drip. Like water droplets, these thoughts seem harmless and minor. However, we have all seen what water drops can do if you have enough of them over a long period of time. The Grand Canyon – two miles wide, one mile deep – was created by “harmless” little drops of water. Imagine what your negative thoughts may do to your subconscious.
How often do we say something that is not true, and just assume that it doesn’t matter? Bit by bit, these negative thoughts may be programming the computer that is our brain to eventually think or believe these thoughts. If we are constantly telling ourselves things that aren’t true, how long before we begin to believe them and operate on them as if they were true?
Think of other things you might be telling yourself without realizing it. For example, “I’m not good at X”, “I’ll never do Y”, “I always tell the truth”, “I never lie”. Watch out for these magnet words – always, never, etc. These words are possible clues that what we are telling ourselves may not be true. As an exercise, try and listen to your psyche when you tell yourself something with a magnet word. How does it feel inside you? Does it feel right or wrong? Now, try rephrasing the statement – for example, “I try to tell the truth whenever possible”, or “I do my best to be honest and not tell lies”. Now how does it feel? Do the second statements feel more correct to you?
Another example is this: Suppose someone asks you if you are good at something (for example, your profession or a favorite hobby). Wanting to appear modest, your answer might be something like “I’m okay at this” or “I’m pretty good at some of it, but have trouble with this other part”. The “BUT” takes away from the truth – that you are, in fact good at it. This is not bragging, just the truth. These are also the kinds of things that we need to watch what we tell ourselves.
Try to begin paying careful attention to what you do and say to yourself. Let your heart and feelings guide you. Think to yourself, “How does this feel?”. Is it true? Does it feel right? Does it sound right? If it doesn’t sound/feel right, then it probably isn’t. Try to adjust the words until your thought does feel and sound right to you.
It’s not too late to start developing new habits and training your subconscious in more positive ways. Eventually, you will stop the negative self-talk and replace with more positive words and thoughts. This will become easier over time, until you can just do it without even thinking about it.
Your words and your thoughts put energy into your direction.