As a therapist I spend a lot of time talking with people about their relationships with others. We get in depth about how they interact, share, and express themselves with the people in their lives. Much of my work focuses on helping individuals in being authentic about who they are; being open and vulnerable with themselves and others.
Lately though, my work with many individuals hasn’t been about relationships with others, it’s been about how people are in relationship with themselves. As in, is how they treat their self.
Do you ever listen to how you talk with yourself? Specifically the words and messages you tell yourself when things get challenging or tough.
Do you nurture and support yourself? Do you say loving kind things? Or do you berate yourself for not doing it different or better?
Are you your own harshest critic?
In my experience, most people go through life saying some pretty awful things to themselves. And usually we realize it too. We would never say out loud to our loved ones some of the things we freely say to ourselves.
So if we don’t talk to others like this, why do we talk to ourselves like this?
While that may be a pretty big question to answer, the solution can start right now.
Get mindful about the language and tone you use with yourself. The first step is gaining awareness around your self-talk. Because you’ve lived in this body your whole life, you’re probably pretty used to this kind of negative self-talk. Slowing down, paying close attention and noticing the words, tone, meanings and details of how you talk to yourself will help you realize how often it’s happening. Because, if you aren’t aware of the negative language it’s difficult to change it.
Be kind to yourself. When you become aware of the put-downs you use, and you hear yourself saying them, respond to yourself by saying something kind. Apologize to yourself for talking so mean. Take a deep breath and remind yourself you are worth more than that. Recognize when you wouldn’t say those words to others then they have no place in your mind/heart.
Take things a bit deeper and start exploring patterns. If you find that most of your self-talk is around a certain issue (for example: struggling with parenting, feeling like an impostor at work, difficulty finding courage to come out to someone in your life), pay attention! These patterns are your clues to creating change. Try journaling or quite time with yourself and ask yourself: Where did I learn this pattern? What experiences in my past have contributed to my negative self-talk? What do I have control over to change? Is my talk helpful or harmful?
Changing negative self-talk is just one of many ways that you can care for yourself. If you need support and ideas about more things you can do to have a fulfilled self-care plan in place, check out this free downloadable self-care checklist. It has several ideas for you to make sure all the parts of you are taken care of. Also, if this is an area you struggle, reach out, I'm here to help!
With you in personal growth,
Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.