It’s hard to curb the tendency many of us have to criticize ourselves. Just today, I missed a turn I take several times a week, and I had to go about 20 blocks out of my way and make three right turns to get back on track. “Becky!” scolded that voice in my head, adding a few other things I can’t mention for general audiences.
I actually caught myself and changed my response to this: “It’s OK. People make mistakes. I just need to refocus on the task at hand.” My two little boys were in the car, and I said it out loud so we all could hear. But the situation reminded me just how unhelpful those knee-jerk put downs we give ourselves can be.
Here’s a dozen to strike from the list, for good!
1. “Why did I do that?”
Just move on to the solution. Nothing good is going to come from asking why. Need proof? Ask a four-year old why he drew on the walls. Doesn’t solve a thing.
2. “How stupid”
More likely it was a bit clumsy, imperfect, unpolished, or just wrong. For goodness sakes, don’t let a mere slip up impugn your intellect.
3. “I’ll fail”
When you tell yourself this, you’ve lost the race before the gun even goes off.
4. “I can’t”
Fear lurks here—as long as you let it.
5. “I’m not _____ enough”
Tall? Rich? Good-looking? Phooey!
6. “I don’t deserve it”
Of course you do. So remind yourself you do.
7. “I never win”
And if you tell yourself this, you never will.
8. “I’ll look bad”
You’ve got to rise above that worry when seeking to make change, progress or big goals.
9. “It’s too hard”
Well, sure it is. Keep at it.
10. “I quit”
The progression of “it’s too hard.” Bargain with yourself. Take one more step. Then another. Then another. Urge yourself on, bit by bit. But don’t quit.
11. “It’s too late to _____”
It’s never too late, as long as you’re drawing breath. It’s never too late to learn, to reconcile, to love, to sing, to skip, and to start speaking kindly to yourself.
12. “It won’t matter”
It always matters. And you always matter.
Self-talk is mighty powerful. What are the traps your inner voice sets? How do you avoid them? It might be by using positive narratives. That’s what I try to do.
Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Sydney, before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. You can read Becky’s blog Framing What Works.
Republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most.