The way we speak to ourselves (also called self-talk) can build us up or leave us deflated. The words, the tone, and the overall message in our words can either motivate or tear down, lighten or depress. We may not always feel optimistic in this life, and in those moments our self talk needs to help us persist – enabling us to come out the other side with as little wounding as possible.
How would your mood shift, your perceived stress dissipate, or your day change if you spoke to yourself the way you would speak to a close friend? How would your mood shift if you spoke to yourself as kindly as you would to a young child?Whatever your life experience, whatever has caused you to feel down on yourself, in this moment, try choosing kindness with your inner words. Not sure how or even what to say? Take 5 seconds and try these simple steps that I refer to as Catch – Anchor – Encourage:
- Catch yourself when your inner words are negative. Notice with kindness “Whoops, there I go again…”
- Take a deep breath, allowing yourself to get present in the moment.
- Insert something positive, such as “Ok, I can try again.”
“Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up. We just need to learn to make friends with our inner critic.” (Dr. Kristin Neff)
If you have a tendency to use negative self-talk, be patient with yourself as you learn to turn it around. Here is a ‘cheat sheet’ of positive statements you use when substituting out the negative – think of this as a starting point as you learn to substitute your own.
- I am not alone in my struggles
- I am strong
- Every breath I take anchors me in this present moment
- I can do this
- I can get help if I need to
- I am doing the best that I can
- I can’t blame myself for everything
- I will learn from this mistake
- Emotions are just visitors and I can let them leave
- I can connect with calm again
- I am going to be okay
- I am able to calm my mind and my body
- This too shall pass
- I am able to persist
- This is just one bad day
- I believe that everything will work itself out somehow
Okay – now it’s your turn. Practice Catch-Anchor-Encourage as you go about your day today. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know how it goes!
Neff, K. (2015) Self-compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.