Improve Your Self-Image by Improving Your Self-Talk

“The only difference between the best performance and the worst performance is the variation in our self-talk.” ~ Dorothy and Bette Harris

Suppose we could plug a set of headphones that are able to capture the thoughts of the people around us and listen to their inner conversations with themselves, what would we hear?

Suppose we could record our own inner voices that run throughout the day, and play them aloud at the end of each day, will we be shocked by what we would hear?

We carry conversations with ourselves all the time. If we can measure every statement that we make to ourselves, how many negative ones will we catch? Here are some typical inner dialog examples:

“I hate the alarm clock. I dread getting up and going to work”.

“Shucks! I’m running late again”.

“Not another bad hair day”.

“I think Sue and Jane are talking behind my back again”.

“I’m just not good at time management.”

“I’m not productive at all this week”.

“I’m too tired for my gym workout today. I’ll do it tomorrow”.

“This is the third time I’ve made the same mistake. Stupid me”.

“I feel so unloved”.

“I feel nervous about the presentation. I hope nobody will notice my shaking hands”.

“Why can’t I attract more success and money?”

“I just lack self-confidence. I can’t win this.”

The Self-Depreciation Habit

It’s common for people to apologize constantly and make self-depreciating remarks to others to gain sympathy or extra attention. It’s amazing sometimes to see some people brag about their weaknesses or misfortunes. Unknowingly, that becomes a ‘feel good’ habit.

The stories that they tell others become believable and their subconscious minds will repeat the stories to themselves, resulting in matching behaviors and actions that further reinforce the beliefs. It’s a perpetual cycle, self-inflicting curse which will hurt their self-image.

Is this what you’ve been feeding your mind with?


Self-Talk Exercise to Build Self-Image

One great daily exercise is for developing self-confidence is to re-write the scripts for our inner dialog. Replace self-criticism with positive self-talk.  For instance, here is a self-critical child’s inner dialog when approaching a drawing assignment:

“Oh boy, this is going to be tough! I’m going to make a mess of this again for sure. Oh! There you go, you’ve done it again. I could never draw. My mother said that. It looks as if all my classmates are doing fine except me.”

Here is the way the same child can be coached to replace his inner conversations with a more friendly approach:

“Okay, what is it I have to do? You want me to draw the shape of that object. I’ll go slow and start with this line. Okay, draw the line down. Good. Then to the right. Good. Then draw the line back up. No, I was supposed to go down. It’s okay. Just erase the line carefully. Okay, now go back down again. Finished, I did it. That wasn’t so tough after all. I can do this!”

Most of us have not been so fortunate to have someone to coach us in the past. We have absorbed thousands of depreciating messages from others and ourselves. And we have believed them to be true, especially if the remarks came from the people we look up to and trust.


Journaling Your Self-Talk

One great way to get into the habit of running stream of positive self-dialogs is to write them down. Our thoughts wander too easily, it’s better to put them down on paper.

Writing them down helps to focus our thought processes and channel them to the desired direction instead of letting them wander aimlessly.

Be honest about how you feel. It’s no use surpressing the negative feelings or pretend they don’t exist. Accept them for what they are, just temporary feelings.

Write down optimistic statements of how you want to feel during the day. For example, if you journal during the morning, you can write something like these:

  • I’m grateful for this new day and I feel optimistic about what’s unfolding.
  • I’m a competent decision maker and I trust myself to do the right things today.
  • I feel alive and I’m gonna enjoy spending my energy today in purposeful living.
  • I am thankful for the relationships I have and I’ll display kindness to the lives around me today.
  • I choose to learn from every situations today, both the good and the bad.

You can train and increase your conscious awareness of your self-talk throughout the day. Take charge of your self-talk by re-affirming what you wrote in your journal. At the end of the day, take stock of what ran through your mind and how you felt as feedbacks. Notice if there is a certain pattern or common theme and see where it comes from. Face the truth about your story.

As time goes by, as you feed your mind the right way, as you keep writing and re-writing your scripts, your self-image will gradually appreciates. Your self-esteem and self-belief will increase and you’ll notice the difference in the results at work, play, relationships etc. Most importantly, you’ll feel a little better in your own skin.

Let me know your outcome and your story.


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