Have you noticed how much energy is wasted when you put yourself down? Negative thinking – and the behaviour that follows – is draining and adds to further corrosion of self-confidence. If you feel unattractive, incompetent, unsuccessful, inadequate, you’re contributing to negative self-talk. But once you put a stop to such negative thoughts and self-talk, you open yourself up to meaningful growth and contentment which can last a lifetime.
Even when people are competent and likeable they might have fragile self-esteem. No matter how others view them, inside they feel inadequate. Whenever something goes wrong – as it inevitably will from time to time in life – they blame themselves.
Sometimes it may be the case that people don’t feel good enough or no good at all for an entire lifetime without a clear idea of what’s really the matter. There’s just this feeling that deep down, there’s something wrong with us. We long to feel better about ourselves and what we do.
Negative thoughts and self-talk
Many of us think that in order to feel better and value ourselves more we need to lose weight, earn more money, get that promotion, have children, be a better mother or do something that makes a mark on the world. Even if you reach these goals it doesn’t mean you’ll have a better self-image of yourself.
This is because self-esteem can only come from inner acceptance. Negative thinking and self-talk can undermine this inner acceptance.
Without self-approval, the boost from the outside commendation lasts only as long as the kudos keeps rolling in. Once that ceases, you may suffer a dramatic drop in self-esteem and can even experience a depression. To be truly able to value ourselves – and believe in our self-worth – we need to approve of ourselves for who we are.
Breaking out of the negative cycle
Many people are good at nurturing others, but not very good at nurturing themselves. Women, in particular, are known to be familiar with this dynamic. Girls are often taught that giving is good and taking is selfish.
The negative cycle and self-talk can begin fairly innocently. Wanting to live up to expectations to be good and all-capable and all-giving, many women judge themselves as coming up short. This begins the negative cycle which then lowers self-esteem and makes you feel hopeless and helpless. This allows you to criticise yourself even more.
Here are some typical self-critical attitudes and comments:
I should have done better
I shouldn’t have made that mistake
I hate the way I look
Everyone else always seems to handle things better than me
I always mess up
I don’t deserve this reward/promotion/good thing that’s happened
I’m a terrible mother/lover/wife/child/worker
I’ll never be able to learn this
Get into the positive cycle
To change and grow – and feel better about yourself – you need to hook into a positive cycle of thoughts, attitudes and self-talk. Try telling yourself that you’re capable, good, able to learn and change and have faith in yourself and your abilities.
I made a mistake, but everyone does, and I’ll learn from this
This seems difficult, but with persistence, I’ll get it
I’m having a tough time and I could use some tender loving care
There are things I want to improve about myself as mother/lover/wife/child/worker
There are parts of these roles as mother/lover/child/worker that I’m very good at
While everything is not perfect, I’ve been making an effort and this will pay off
Nobody is perfect and I have great eyes/good skin/a winning smile/likeable personality
I am a good person and I deserve to be happy
By learning to be positive about yourself and your abilities, you learn how to feel good about yourself – as you are. This positive cycle and positive self-talk frees your mental energy to do the things you want to do. You can enjoy living in the present, instead of waiting for things to get better or improve in the future.
The positive cycle you can achieve through positive self-talk will nurture you and your success and subsequently lead to increased self-esteem and hope. This in turn will lead to more positive actions for which you can take the credit – and you’ll feel even better and more successful and this leads to more self-nurturing and better self-esteem.
To learn more about helping yourself to greater self-esteem see Because You’re Really Worth It