The story you tell yourself reflects what you believe, and what you expect will happen. What you repeatedly say to and about yourself usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It doesn’t matter what you believe. If you believe something, reinforce it with repetition and act on that belief. It will quickly become your reality!
Good news/bad news, isn’t it?
If you believe:
- … you are destined to be overweight because it runs in the family, you will tell that story over and over, and find every excuse not to exercise or eat right because, “why bother?”
- … you are alone and nobody will ever love you, you will tell that story over and over, and find reasons to withdraw from your social circle.
- … your relationship is destined to become passionless and boring, you will tell that story over and over, and your relationship will fizzle because you will become hyper-focused on things about your partner that turn you off.
But… remember I said, “good news/bad news” so here’s the good news. If you believe:
- … you are loved, you will tell that story over and over, and you will lavish love on yourself and on others.
- … life is a fun adventure, you will tell that story over and over, and you’ll do fun things and enjoy life much more than someone who believes life is all hard work and problems.
- … you will succeed, you will tell that story over and over, and you will do what it takes to succeed.
What you believe, and repeat to yourself consistently, is exactly what you will experience.
You can use your words (your self-talk) to change your beliefs about yourself in a positive way!
3 Steps to a Better Story
Changing your self-talk is not going to be an overnight success. It has taken you a lifetime to come up with your self-defeating stories. It’s going to take some time to get you to the positive side of things. However, right now is the perfect time to start telling better stories and it’s easier than you think!
Today I want to show you a 3-step process to become familiar with your self-story, and how to change it.
1. How do you feel?
Most of what you say to yourself is automatic. It’s habitual. To notice the self-defeating phrases you use about yourself, you don’t have to monitor what you’re saying to yourself all day long! Go by your feelings.
If you say something to or about yourself and feel weak, defeated, sad, discouraged, helpless, hopeless, frustrated, guilty, or angry, that’s a sign that you’re saying something self-defeating.
2. Add “But… something positive.”
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you say something nice to or about yourself and then you end it with “but… (something negative)” and cancel out all that goodness? For example:
- “I’m so excited to have this new job, BUT I’m so shy, it’s going to take forever to make any friends here.”
- “Wow I just put on my skinny jeans and they look so good, BUT the holidays are coming so they won’t fit for long!”
- “My husband took me out for a nice romantic dinner to celebrate my new job BUT now I’m feeling all bloated and gross.”
When you do this, you don’t even remember that you said something nice about yourself… all you remember is the negative stuff!
If you’re saying something self-defeating: add “but… (something positive)” to what you just said. Why? Because you remember what you said last! Notice how many positive statements you say, that you end with “but… (something negative)” that cancels out the good stuff you just said.
You can end even the most negative phrase on a positive note to cancel out that negativity!
Even if you don’t remember to do it immediately, you’ll remind yourself later of the unkind thing you said, and then you can add your positive ending.
- “I’m having a really hard time feeling accepted by my family BUT I’m living my life according to what feels right for me.”
- “I can’t seem to drop those last 10 pounds BUT I’m excited to have a new workout buddy who’s in the same situation!”
- “I’m so angry at myself for eating that whole bag of peanuts last night BUT I feel happy about the weather forecast. Looks like a great day for a hike with my friends!”
If you’re saying something positive/encouraging: train yourself to just STOP when you’ve said the nice thing. Don’t let yourself “but it out”!
3. Repeat Often
The process of retraining yourself to speak kindly to and about yourself goes like this:
- Catch yourself in a negative self-defeating statement by observing how you feel.
- Add “but… (something positive) to every single not-nice thing you say to or about yourself. Even if it’s 10 minutes later or a day later. Cancel out the negativity with something kind and encouraging!
- Repeat, repeat, repeat!
- The more you get used to saying nice things to or about yourself, you’ll realize it feels good… really good…
Saying Is Believing
It’s eye opening to realize that most problems are only problems because of the way you talk about them!
- Low self-esteem comes from an “I’m not worthy” self-story.
- Giving up comes from an “I’m no good” self-story.
- Social isolation comes from a “Nobody loves me” self-story.
- Being broke comes from a “There is never enough money” self-story.
It takes courage to stand up to your habitual self-stories. But by using this simple technique, you get used to saying nicer, more encouraging things to and about yourself and gradually wean yourself off the trash-talk.
As a result, you’ll feel better, and actually talk yourself into better beliefs about yourself!