There is a quote from the movie “Ratatouille” that goes, “The most important voice you will ever hear is your own. Trust it.”
And this couldn’t be more true. Self-talk has been studied extensively and it’s been found to have a significant impact on our success in life. Self talk can lead us to failure or success by influencing how we think of ourselves and the world around us. Self talk gives us a voice that talks to us every day about who we are, what we believe, and what we’ll do next.
The one thing that sets each person apart from someone else is their unique self-talk pattern which creates an individual way of thinking, feeling and acting in any given moment.
Our self talk is always with us and it’s up to us whether we want to listen to the voice that tells us we are valuable, capable and loved or the one that tells us we are not good enough, not worth it, and a burden to others.
Once we become aware of our self talk we can see how it really does shape our feelings about ourselves, others and our lives. And that in acknowledging our self talk and changing it, we actually can change our life-for the better.
You Are Worthy, Lovable, and Unique
The first step in changing your self talk is to believe that you are worthy, lovable, and perfect-just the way you are. There is only one you and you have things that are unique that you bring to the world that nobody else can bring.
As Mel Robbins pointed out in her TED talk, there is a 1 in 400 trillion chance of being you. The chances of your parents meeting and actually having you are astoundingly slim. Going farther back in your genetics to your ancestors meeting, surviving, and procreating shows how you are an incredibly unique human being. You truly are a miracle!
Considering the miracle of you being born and then pair that with all of your unique life experiences and we have who you are today. The amazing person you are with a voice that is all your own. A voice that talks to you every day about who you are, what you believe, and what you’ll do next.
If you don’t see yourself for the amazing and lovable person you are, it could be because of years of negative self talk. That can change, if you want it to.
Our Self Talk is a Mirror of Our Beliefs
Our self talk reflects the beliefs we have about ourselves. If we value ourselves and feel that our contributions to the world are valuable our self talk is mostly healthy. Saying things like, “Wow, I did a good job there.” Or when faced with a challenge saying, “This is really challenging but I have no doubt I’ll do my best to figure it out.” And in the face of having not succeeded responding with, “Well, I tried hard, learned a lot and am going to give it another shot.”
If however, we don’t have positive beliefs about ourselves based on life experiences that have shown us that we aren’t lovable, worthy, or contributing in a useful way to the world around us, our thoughts will sound like, “Why even try? It won’t make any difference.” Or “There I go again, making things worse instead of better.” Or “I’m just no good at relationships, I’ve always liked the type of person who just can’t treat me well.”
The self talk we use simply mirrors how we feel about ourselves and influences what we do moment to moment in our lives.
If you want to change your life, the first place to start is to look at your self talk.
There is a quote that says that you wouldn’t talk to others in the mean and disrespectful way you talk to yourself. Or consider if you would want to have a friend that talks to you, the way you talk to yourself? If the answer is no, your self talk could use some consideration.
The first step in any change is to look at the reality of the situation and see if this is an issue for you. Does your self talk reflect that you love and have faith in your abilities? Or does it show that you don’t love yourself, that you feel a lack of worthiness, and/or you don’t trust your abilities.
Simply becoming aware of how you talk to yourself is a great place to start. The next time you start to talk to yourself notice, is what you’re saying kind? Is it loving? Would you talk to your boss, friends, family the way you are currently talking to yourself? If the answer is no, then you know that what you’re saying isn’t helpful and won’t do you any good.
Is it True?
What if what you’re saying to yourself has some element of truth behind it? Maybe you do need to lose weight, make more time for family, or stop procrastinating. Your self talk may be rooted in something that is real for you, a goal you have.
However, talking to yourself in a way that makes you feel shame and doesn’t help move you forward only keeps you stuck. Stuck in a pattern of hurtful self talk, repeating the same self destructive patterns, and then continuing to feel worse about yourself.
Shame researcher Brene Brown said, “the reason we do that is because we’ve bought into the idea that we can shame ourselves into changing — but ‘there’s literally not a scrap of evidence that says that’s true”.
In fact, what helps you move towards meeting your goals isn’t shaming yourself in your self talk, but accepting yourself instead. Once you’ve accepted the things you want to change about yourself-then the healing and change can take place.
The next step is to get curious about the things you want to change. What’s keeping you from getting what you want? Self talk can be a great tool for this process by listening when your self-talk shows up in negative ways or if it keeps repeating itself around something that isn’t working out for us.
For example, at work if you keep getting passed over for a promotion, your self talk might be something like, “I’m not good enough.” Or, “I must not have worked hard enough.”
Both of these thoughts are keeping you stuck in the exact same place and won’t help you get that promotion. However, identifying when you have the thoughts rather than accepting them as true-seeing that there is a message for you within the thought about something you truly want in your life. A promotion!
From there, get curious. Start to think about all of the wonderful things you do at work and then think about the one or two things that you don’t do that would help you continue to grow.
Then consider one small thing you can do today to start making that change. Each day, ask yourself-what is one small thing I can do to start making that necessary change. Then do it. Keeping it small and doable.
You Deserve Kindness and It Starts with Your Self Talk
The most important voice is the one that talks to you every day. The voice that tells you who you are, what you believe, and where you’re going next. It’s up to you to make sure that voice is kind, loving, and supportive. So start by believing in yourself, because when you do-anything is possible.
Just to recap when you notice your self talk is negative-get curious about it. Is there any message in your self talk about something you’d like to change in your life? If so, what is it? How can you take one small step to start working on that goal today?
If our self talk doesn’t have a goal or a longing in it, then simply noticing it, remembering that it doesn’t serve us, and thinking something like, “Yeah, we’re not doing this anymore. I am (insert a strength here),” and continue on with what you were doing. This will help you change your thought patterns of negative self talk and you’ll be amazed how quickly it will shift for you.
When you catch yourself in a negative spiral of self talk, it can be tough to break the habit. But it’s worth it!