I’ve been preparing for my upcoming online conversation about “Weeding Out Negative Self-Talk” and I began to think about my own experience with this and when it was that I first realized how much I put myself down and described myself in incredibly negative terms. I distinctly remember a time about 10 years ago or more – I had called my therapist for an emergency phone conversation. The particulars don’t really matter but I was falling apart, crying and blaming myself for circumstances and outcomes that had really never been in my control. I was using would’ves, should’ves and could’ves left and right and saying things like this: I’m the worst parent possible; I should have known better than all of the professionals I consulted; I’m incapable and stupid; I’m a failure and everything is always my fault. After my therapist listened to me rant for a while, she said this to me – “Megan, you are so mean to yourself.” Her words stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t speak because I knew it was true and then it was just the cleansing tears that flowed. I was very mean to myself, always believing that I should know how to do everything right and to always know what’s best and to be able to say the right things and to have everything turn out perfectly. And, of course, I set myself up for failure at every turn and could find no compassion for myself – only recrimination.
It was in that moment that I realized just how much my own negative self-talk impacted my well-being, physically and mentally. And, in that moment, I made my first efforts at letting go of my abusive self-talk and I began the process of learning how to find self-compassion and turning my negative thoughts into positive ones. I also had to let go of my need for perfection, which was a topic of one of my previous talks.
So, there was lots of work to do and sometimes it was very hard, but I could not deny the relief I felt when I was able to successfully let things go and to allow myself to be a vulnerable and imperfect human being. And, my successes grew, compounding the relief and the benefits and actually changing me and the way I thought and behaved.
It began with awareness which became an awakening and the discovery that I could indeed change this pattern of thinking. Finding the courage to take the actions needed to change was hard but not impossible. Only a little bit of courage is necessary to open the door to change. I’ve finally fallen into a pattern of flow with only occasional obstructions – obstructions that might set me back for a moment or even for a while but today the metaphor I can use to describe what happens is like river canoeing. Smoothly moving with the current except for some small rapids or a boulder or two along the way. A little effort might be necessary to change direction and I might have to paddle a bit harder through the obstructions and suddenly the water and my canoe can smoothly flow around to the other side. I have the capacity now to recognize it when I’m treating myself unfairly and speaking to myself harshly and I can stop, breathe, change direction and show myself some compassion.
If you’re reading this and want to attend my upcoming online event on November 7, 2020, titled “Weeding Out Negative Self-Talk”, I’d be honored to have you attend. I’ll be talking more about my experience, how I changed and how you can change, too. If you go to the Events section of my website, you’ll find the registration information there.
Be kind to yourself and take care.