There is an old saying that says sticks and bones may break your bones, but thoughts will never hurt you. In reality, words (even the words we tell ourselves), are powerful. If you consistently repeat negative thoughts in your head, you’ll begin to believe them. What’s more, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable with people and circumstances that bring you down rather than appreciate you. Without a doubt, negative self-talk can cause damage to your spirit and life.
If you’re prone to thoughts of self-doubt, here are some tips on how get it under control.
Appreciate Your Own Unique Path in This World
It’s so easy to compare your life and everything that encompasses it (your career, your dating life) to someone else’s. Even the most confident among us can get tripped up by negative thoughts when we put our life side-by-side against someone else’s. If you catch yourself doing that, remember that you never really know what goes on in someone else’s life. What looks rosy on the surface may mask a host of problems that you want to deal with in a million years.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts
You might not notice how often you think negatively about yourself or the circumstances around you. For a day or two, consciously pay attention to your thoughts, and pay attention to phrases like:
- I’m so stupid
- Of course he doesn’t like me
- I’ll never get what I want
- She won’t answer me
- They don’t notice me
- I’m not good enough for
If you feel yourself leaning towards a negative thought like this, stop and pause. When you pay attention to just how many times you’re repeating this “negative soundtrack” in your head, you can then begin to take steps to change your thinking. Jot down these negative thoughts, and then immediately think of a positive one to replace it. Write the positive one down under the negative phrase, and cross the negative one out. Repeat the positive one silently to yourself a few times.
This exercise might seem silly at first, but it will make you aware of that automatic thinking that has come so naturally to you in the past. By learning how to halt the negative message, you can then move on to change it to something good instead.
Identify Areas That Cause Self-Doubt
You might have low self-esteem all the way around and as a result your negative thoughts float everywhere throughout the day. Or, you may be able to pinpoint them to a certain area. Pay attention to any patterns that pop up.
For example, do you doubt yourself when it comes to your weight? Your job? If you can zero in on the areas that trip you up the most, you’ll have an easier time targeting your positive thoughts and actions to replace the bad ones. Very often when there is one certain area you’re most likely to doubt yourself in, you may be doing things that sabotage yourself as well. For example, if you’re down about your weight, you might figure that it doesn’t matter if you work out anyways, so you’ll skip any form of exercise. Or, if you doubt whether you’ll get ahead at work, you’ll shy away from taking on more opportunity or asking for that raise.
Concentrate on the Things You Want to Happen in Your Life
Rather than focusing on what’s missing from your life, concentrate on what you want and then take it one step further and envision your life with the positive element already there. If you want a new job, picture yourself already working there. If you want to find a relationship, see yourself hand-in-hand with that someone special.
This change in thought isn’t meant to magically conjure up the object of your desire. Rather, it will help you focus on the life you want and what you need to make it happen. Instead of telling yourself you can’t do something, you’re acting as if it’s a done deal. This distinction is important to your thoughts, as they will dictate your actions. When you believe that more positive things are in your grasp, you will make changes that support this way of thinking instead.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
Self-doubt can make you believe that you’re the only one on the planet that feels the way you do. The truth is, we all go through instances where we doubt ourselves a time or two. Having positive people in your life can help you put things into perspective so you can quickly rebound from negativity.