Sweeten Your Self-Talk
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't—you're right.” Henry Ford
I’m fat. I can’t do it. Nobody likes me. I am terrible at that. I’m not smart enough.
Anyone else have an internal record similar to this one playing on repeat in their head?
Why do we speak so negatively to ourselves? Why do we tell horrible stories to ourselves and feed ourselves limiting beliefs?
Speaking positively to myself is a practice I have been working on, but I have much growing to do. Many times I have talked myself out of taking risks and doing things I have dreamed of. In fact, when I talk negatively to myself, I rarely even make it to the first step. My internal recording sounds something like this: People are going to think you’re crazy. You look terrible. You are going to fail and have to live with that embarrassment for the rest of your life. Depressing, right?
I used to enjoy singing in public. I was in a choir, participated in my high school plays, and sang solos in churches and at other events. I loved it, but as I got older, my negative self-talk became unbearably loud. I haven’t been on a stage to sing in 7 years. Sometimes I think about singing in public again, but my negative self-talk wins every time, and I never even make it to the stage. I know I have a lot of work to do in this area.
Do you have an internal record fueling you with negativity and doubt?
Believe it or not, what you think of yourself makes a difference in how you live your life.
I heard a story about a successful businesswoman who grew up with Dyslexia. She shared how much she used to hate school because she was teased and didn’t get good grades. She even recalled how she would get straight Ds. She continued to share how she used these experiences to fuel her fire and to achieve her dreams.
She said she would never let anyone call her “stupid” again, and she became determined to prove wrong those who had looked down on her. She moved forward through life, playing on her strengths and thinking positively about herself. This woman grew to become one of the most successful businesswomen—Barbara Corcoran. You may know her from the famous TV show, Shark Tank.
Her story inspired me so much, because it was clear that she did not let Dyslexia keep her from achieving her dreams. She did not let her learning disability or the teasing at school define, limit, or consume her. Do you think she would be as successful as she is today if she fed herself negative self-talk every day? What if every day she said to herself, “I could never achieve this goal or dream because I am dyslexic”? Do you think she would be the woman she is today? I am almost positive she wouldn’t be.
There are countless stories of people who have overcome struggles and tragic experiences. They refused to let circumstances hold them back, and they became better and stronger people because of it. I’m sure we have all heard stories of those who have assumed the victim role, made it their identity, and have been unable to move forward in their lives. Although extremely difficult, there is so much power in moving forward and not allowing anything to hold you hostage.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes what you say to yourself can become a self-fulfilling prophecy? For example, if you keep telling yourself you’re not going to have a good time at the BBQ your friend is hosting, you’re most likely going to have a terrible time.
How about the basketball player who steps up to take a foul shot and tells himself he is a terrible player and will miss the shot? Do you think he will make his shot? Most likely, if he continues to feed himself that negative self-talk as he approaches the foul line, he won't make his shot. After he misses, he may even say, “See! I knew I was going to miss.” How defeating it is to think this way!
When I was a teacher, it was amazing how much my students could do when they believed they could. I had one student who would say how much he hated multiplication. He would complain about how hard math was and how he couldn’t answer the questions correctly no matter how hard he tried. Guys, he repeated this over and over again in math class!
One day, as I was working with him one-on-one, it hit me that instead of focusing on what I was teaching in math class, he was focused on telling himself that he couldn’t do it. We made a mind-shift that day; we decided to work on our attitude toward our math abilities. (I must say my student wasn’t thrilled about it at first.) From then on, when we came across multiplication problems, we said: “I can’t do multiplication, yet.” Then we transitioned to saying, “I’m getting better in multiplication.” Then finally we said over and over: “I know multiplication. I got this!” I watched this student’s multiplication skills change drastically as he began to think more positively.
Now I’m not saying to just think positively and you will get everything you want. You will not be rich, famous, or excellent at trigonometry just because you say so if you do not put in the necessary work. What I am saying is that positive self-talk and thinking positively is good for you. It’s a better way to live your life and to think about yourself. It empowers you to move forward, meet your goals, and chase your dreams. Positive self-talk takes your mind off the negative and puts it onto the positive, and that, my friends, can only have a positive effect on you.
Make the Change
Sweeten your self-talk. Speak positively to yourself. Some people do not even try to achieve their goals or dreams because they have talked themselves out of it. They have dug their heels in because they repeated and rehearsed all their weaknesses and fears of failure. (I unfortunately am guilty of this.) Do yourself a favor and remind yourself of your strengths, compliment yourself, and celebrate your wins. Just like my student who had to retrain how he viewed his math skills, begin saying phrases that will help boost your positivity and the way you view yourself.
Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people. It has been said that you will become like the 7 people with whom you spend the most time. Find a positive and encouraging person or people to be around, and you will become more positive. Without you realizing it, they will help you to look at situations differently. They will give you that encouragement you need that will inspire you to combat some of the negative self-talk. Their positivity will rub off on you.
Change your mindset and feed yourself positivity. Don’t give in to your limiting beliefs. Find the opposite message to your negative self-talk, and believe it. For example, when I tell myself I’m not smart enough. Instead, I should turn that around and say, I will use my God-given abilities to the best of my ability. I can do this, and I can figure this out. I may not have the answer yet, but I will. Listen to encouraging podcasts, read books, and commit to growing.
Our mind is very powerful, and the words we say to ourselves affect us, whether or not we choose to realize it. Scripture tells us, “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV).
Sweeten your self-talk and surround yourself with positive people who lift you up. Speak positively, spread positivity, and look at your situations through a positive lens.
Henry Ford once said, “It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” Stop wasting time, telling yourself what you cannot do. Speak kindly to yourself, work hard, and try your best. Get on the stage, sing your song with freedom and abandon, start the business you are dreaming about, take the foul shot, write your book, and get that degree you want, because life is too short to t