As a therapist in Santa Barbara, one of my favorite things is helping my clients’ increase their self-esteem! So often when they start therapy, they see little of their own value. If I ask them to tell me what they like about themselves, they have to really think before they can come up with one or two things. If I were to ask them to tell me what the DON’T like, they would have no problem. Their inner critics are alive and well!
Right from the beginning, I listen carefully to how they talk about themselves. It isn’t difficult to find them being self-critical. When I bring their attention to something negative they’ve just said about themselves, nine times out of ten there’s no awareness of having said it. They’re so used to putting themselves down, that they don’t even know when they’re doing it.
After awhile they start to increase their awareness, and their tendency to be harsh and judgmental in their self-talk starts to lessen. I’m always encouraging my clients to be gentle and patient with themselves, just as they would be with others. We’re with ourselves 24 hours a day! We can do a lot of self-damage by being unkind and impatient.
Please try to listen for the subtle putdowns that you say to yourself. As you increase your awareness, try substituting a positive statement or affirmation. In time, you will develop a much softer, more accepting attitude toward yourself. Try it. It works! You’ll accomplish a lot more if you are supportive rather than critical. And you’ll be a whole lot happier doing it!
Until next time,
Great advice, but, oh so tough at times to follow. I think many of us were raised to believe self deprecation is a good thing.
I’m glad that you liked the post, Amy. It can be tough to remember to be patient, kind, and loving in your self-talk. We have the teachings of a lifetime to gently undo, as to how we care for, and about, ourselves. The results of increased awareness of our inner critic and its negative messages will allow us to start changing it. Self-care is not selfish!
Self negativity really effects our everyday life, and you’re right, so often people don’t even realize that they are their own biggest bully. Changing how we talk to ourselves changes how we see ourselves.
You’re so right, Calla! Our thoughts (self-talk) impact our emotions, and also the choices that we make. If we change our self-talk, we will begin to feel better about ourselves, and then our choices will be ones that lead us forward into happier lives.
I see the connection between negative self talk and health on a daily basis. As health care professionals, it is part of our job to encourage people to love and like themselves. Bless you for your contribution…
Thank you, Dr. Valerie! I think we both see the whole person: mind, body, and spirit, and know the importance of fully supporting our clients to care for, and about, themselves. I know that you feel as honored as I do to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.
Self esteem is so important. As a mother, I try to encourage being positive about others and yourself to my children.
Self-esteem really is important, Linda. Modeling good self-esteem and making kind comments about yourself are very important for children to see. If they hear you put yourself down, they soak that up, just as they do anything we say or do as parents. They need to see you being patient, kind, and supportive of yourself — and, of course, of them too. I suspect that you’re a wonderful parent!