We can be own best enemies, our harshest critics and the most artful self-saboteurs. Negative self talk is a powerful and very often unconscious act, that gets in the way for so many smart, busy professionals and can quickly leave you feeling like the rug has been pulled out from underneath your feet. With all of the distracting and destructive yammering its hard to get more of the right things done and easy to fritter away your time. I have written about this before, but recent conversations with several clients and colleagues made me think it is worth revisiting.
Words can quite literally create realities and worlds. Take the Declaration of Independence as an example. You create your life by the stories you tell yourself, in your thoughts and actions. The stories we tell ourselves profoundly influence our experience of the world and what we do (or not do). Furthermore you might not fully aware of the stories you tell, especially the self-sabotaging ones because they are automatic and dwell beneath the surface of our daily busyness.
Here are some examples of common self-sabotaging statements or stories:
- You will ever be able to ______________________________.
- You’ll never measure up.
- There’s value in guilt.
- You are the only person who can do this the right way.
- You’ll never be a leader.
- To show fear is weakness or foolish or childish.
- Busy people are productive people
Anything ring a bell for you? Feel to make up your own list There are endless possibilities because our self-saboteurs are very resourceful and creative. The story may even change based on the circumstance at hand.
So what the heck do you do to stop the unhelpful chatter?
Here is the first place to start. Just notice. That’s it. Notice what is happening when that little voice starts yammering away.
- Are you in a meeting with a colleague to pushes your buttons?
- Are you working on something that was gone a muck in the past?
- Maybe you are stuck trying to figure out how to delegate some of the 500 things on your to do list?
Ta-Da! You have begun to quiet the yammering.
By shifting your normal and automatic ways of thinking and doing you can create lasting change. That will take effort, so it is best not to complicate the process with lots of strain. Save that energy for your workout when you can burn off some of the stress the yammering voice has been causing you. First you notice what is going on, you do not, I repeat do not, need to figure anything out. Instead apply the Zen Theory of Change.
“I free myself, not by trying to be free,
but by simply noticing how I am imprisoning myself
in the very moment I am imprisoning myself.” ~ Lao Tzu.
In other words, notice what is the natural order of things in your life and thoughts now. Work with these things, not against them. Forcing change is what sets up and re-enforces resistance. Just Notice- for now. Ever notice when you have tried to change NOW that suddenly all you can think about is what you want to change, why you cannot change it, or how hard it will be to change it, or everything will be fine just as soon as this other thing gets done, or what the heck one more cookie will not matter.
For some more quick tips on how to quiet your negative self talk watch this 3 minute video.