The way you converse in your head decides whether you will eventually love or loathe yourself!
Words can be cruel. People can use harsh words to do you a lot of damage. But have you ever wondered about how you talk to yourself? Do you use kind words or are you constantly criticising yourself? Dr Jaime Kulaga, life coach, mental health counsellor and the author of Type “S”uperwoman: Finding the LIFE in Work-Life Balance – A Self-Searching Book for Women, says, “We do a lot of damage to l ourselves by negative self-talk and don’t even realize the power our own thoughts have over us.” In an interview with Times Life, she tells us how we can talk better to ourselves in order to lead a happy, fulfilling life.
Q: How much importance should we give to what we say to ourselves?
A lot of importance. You talk to yourself every minute of the day. If you are saying hurtful things, putting yourself down, being too much or not enough confident, you begin creating habits and consequently a reality for yourself. This reality is your world, whether it is enjoyable and positive or miserable and negative. Then, you start creating a world that fulfills your perceptions – so shortly thereafter, everything in your world is mis erable, and you are the victim, blaming or making excuses. Or you make your world one to be grateful for. The choice is yours. This is not just a psychological theory, biology supports this: `Neurons that fire together wire together’. Without getting into too much technicalities here, the more frequently you repeat a thought or action, you consequently strengthen the connection be tween a set of brain cells.
Q: We spend more time in our own heads these days. Our perceptions of ourselves are built more on `likes’ and retweets, which boost our egos. The real ity may be quite different… Would you agree?
Yes. Social media has given us an escape from who we really are.We stretch the truth, make things seem better than they really are, and sometimes downright lie to ourselves. The self-talk in this situation is to stop comparing. You can use certain people’s life paths as a guide. By comparing, you lose out on your present and discredit yourself and what you’ve worked for.
Instead, find things that actually make you happy; perhaps spending time with friends, family or ticking things off the bucket list.
Q: Which words should we use more in our lives?
Well, not exactly a word, but the action we should use more is FORGIVENESS. Forgive ness is not a feeling, it’s an action. For give yourself and others. If you are waiting for a particular feeling in order to move on, it may never come – instead realise that the act of forgiving makes you take control of your life, because it’s not a thought, but an action.
Instead of `must’, say `I would like to’. There is not much in life that HAS to get done. For eg, you may think laundry `has’ to get done – but it really doesn’t. If you skipped it on Sunday so that you could be with your family, life will could be with your family, life will still go on. You might have to do the laundry on Monday and Tuesday evening, but at least you got one extra day with the family on the weekend. Don’t stress over that.
Also, when things come to you that you worked for, you’re not lucky, you earned it. Don’t tell yourself you are lucky – luck runs out, hard work doesn’t.
Always tell your self “I earned this”.
Q: How does one navigate the space of positive self-talk without carpeting the problems that need to be faced and dealt with, like a few negative thoughts?
Often, we think that we are sorting out our thought through self-talk, but we are actually just ruminating on the same thing over and over again. Our minds are not trying to find a solution; we are just spiralling our brains down into a self-defeating mode, where we obsess over what went wrong. By doing this, you are brainwashing yourself into guilt, pain and giving into your insecurities. You should rather acknowledge the real issue and begin focussing on solutions to move yourself forward.
Instead of going in to work with a happy face on, know that your home life is suffering, begin to organise your top life roles and focus on managing time with the family, giving dedicated time to them, maximising your work schedule so you take less work home. Also, journal your thoughts so that they don’t build up over time. The more you let thoughts build up, the more chances you will have of panic attacks.
Q: We often find ourselves caught in a rut, unable to move forward or find new ways to deal with things around us, professional or personal… What can we tell our selves at those times?
Think small when you get in a rut. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Negative self-talk minimises our confidence and increases fears. When you are feeling stuck, list your fears, anxieties, and begin taking small steps. Create small goals. For example, many of my clients want to work out, but can’t because “they don’t have time”. They are stuck in the box that workout is 60 minutes or nothing. Instead, download an app on your phone and do a 10-minute powerhouse video in your kitchen. That way, you get to show your negative thoughts they are wrong, and you can literally rewire your mind and life.
Are there any specific words that we say without realising their negative impact?
Yes! `Should’, `must’, `have’, `ought’… these words instill guilt and can lead to anxiety, sadness, even regret
Think small when you get in a rut. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Negative selftalk minimises confidence and increases fears. When you are feeling stuck, list your fears, anxieties, and begin taking small steps. Create small goals.
At work, don’t use words like “I think” and “I feel”. You instantly take away credibility.You’ve turned what you know for a fact into an opinion.
In business, leading comments with feelings can weaken your position because you are putting the focus onto your feelings, when it should be on the point you are making.
If you consistently tell yourself “I messed up” or “what was I thinking”, and keep apologising, you are taking blame for a lot of faults that happen during the day, even ones that you have nothing to do with.