Wait, what did you just say to yourself?
Were they the empowering, encouraging words you would speak to a friend? Or were they the belittling remarks you would shout to an enemy if you had no heart? Or the negative remarks about life you might utter if you had no faith?
All day long you speak silently to yourself, and a part of you believes every word. So stay mindful, and meditate on this question:
“What do I need to stop thinking and saying to myself?”
Here are fifteen toxic thoughts to ban from your self-talk:
- “It’s too late.” – No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change and become an improved version of yourself. Peace, strength and understanding will come to you when you manage to tune out the noisy judgments of others, in an effort to better hear the soft and steady hum of your own inner strength. And once you hear it, you will realize that it’s not too late to be what you might have been.
- “If only I was stronger, smarter, more attractive, etc.” – The absolute worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself. It’s always better to be true to yourself, and risk incurring the ridicule of others, rather than trying to live a lie, only to incur your own self-contempt. Remember, almost everything that happens to you is a direct reflection of what you believe about yourself. You can’t possibly outperform your level of self-esteem. You can’t draw from yourself more than you think you are worth.
- “What I have to say is not that important.” – Silence makes the inner battle much harder and longer. Speak your truth. Let it out… before it kills you! Honestly, this is one of the saddest things about so many people – their most important thoughts and feelings often go unspoken and barely understood.
- “The less risks I take, the less regrets I will have.” – You miss 100% of the shots you never take. Choices, chances and changes – start making them. You must make a choice to take a chance, or your life will never change. In the end, more so than the mistakes we make along the way, we regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.
- “I need their permission.” – Do your thing. Don’t hesitate and waste all your time with lots of explanations. Most people only hear what they want to hear anyway. Just because someone doesn’t understand your point of view, doesn’t mean a great explanation doesn’t exist.
- “I’ll start tomorrow.” – Many great things can be done in a day if you don’t always make that day tomorrow. Don’t let your fear of making a mistake stop you. A life spent making mistakes is not only more enjoyable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
- “I just want to be comfortable.” – You will never improve yourself if you cling to what used to be, simply because it’s familiar and comfortable. Great things rarely come from comfort zones. You have to take risks. You will only realize the full potential of your life when you allow the unexpected to happen.
- “Pain should be avoided at all costs.” – The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love, and to be greater than our misfortunes. To hurt is as human as to breathe. There is some kind of a sweet, innocent power in our humanness – in not having to be just happy or just sad – in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole at the very same time. (Read Daring Greatly.)
- “It’s all their fault.” – If you sit around for too long blaming others for the things they did or didn’t do, or know or didn’t know, you’ll remain sitting in one spot until you pass. Placing blame is easy, because it means you don’t have to do anything; you just have to sit around for your entire life. But that’s not living; that’s dying. To accept where you are without blame by seizing the present for what it is – for the opportunities it’s giving you every instant – that’s what injects life into your story and ultimately moves you forward.
- “It’s OK to break a few promises here and there.” – You make commitments to others and yourself all the time. The question is: Do you keep them? If you said you’re going to do something, do it! When you fail to keep a promise, it tells people (including yourself) that you don’t value their time or relationship. Don’t over-promise; under-promise and over-deliver on everything you do. And a few words to the wise: Never make a big decision when you’re angry, and never make a big promise when you’re overjoyed.
- “It’s OK to stretch the truth.” – It’s disheartening to think how many people are shocked by honesty, and how few by deceit. Don’t be one of them. Uphold the truth, always. Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often. And you should be the one shocking them.
- “If I ignore the dark parts of myself, they will disappear.” – You can’t change what you refuse to confront. So confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with gradual enlightenment and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will eventually allow your angels to sing.
- “There are far too many obstacles.” – There will be moments when troubles enter your life and you can do nothing to avoid them. But know that they are there for a reason. And only when you have overcome them will you understand why they were there. Accept this and keep your head held high. There’s no use in wallowing in negativity. You simply can’t expect victory while planning for defeat.
- “I have failed and lost too much to go on.” – If you have nothing, then you have everything, because you have the freedom to do anything, without the fear of losing something. Confusing? Not really. Think about it. Rock bottom is a solid foundation from which you can rebuild your life the way you always wanted it to be.
- “I just want today to be over already.” – Don’t wish your life away. Experience it. Work at it. Everything you go through grows you. Sometimes you think doing something is a total waste of time, and then it ends up being one of the best things you ever did. Amazing things can and do happen when you least expect them. Let each day be a scavenger hunt in which you must find at least one of these things: a sincere laugh, an act of kindness, a realization, or a lesson that leads you closer to your dreams.
Using positive self-talk isn’t easy, especially when things aren’t going your way. But watch what you say anyway. Don’t give in to toxic thoughts.
Remember, the route to your destination is never a straight line. You will take questionable turns and get lost sometimes. But it doesn’t always matter which road you embark on; what matters is that you embark with the right mindset. Either way life will likely get complicated sometimes, and bring unexpected hurdles and changes. But that’s OK. Sometimes you have to stumble and feel weak for a little while to realize how strong you really are.
In the end, the only things standing between where you are and where you want to be is the will to keep trying and the belief that it is possible to get there.
Truth be told, you can’t live a positive life with a negative attitude. You can’t do what’s right while you’re telling yourself the wrong things. So let’s revisit the question I proposed in the intro:
What do you need to stop thinking and saying to yourself?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts
Photo credits: Flickr/Nicolas Decoopman