In a recent conversation with a friend we were discussing the internal conversations we have, especially, it would seem, when things do not go to plan. She shared with me an incident where she was in a hurry and misplaced her purse. She spent half an hour searching for it and in that time she managed to call herself an array of demeaning names (too blue to post here!), got so angry that it took several hours to calm down and she continued to reaffirm the names she had called herself.
It’s not unusual or rare, I’ve fallen foul of it as have many others but it is unhealthy. How many times have you heard yourself, internally or outwardly remark:
‘I am so useless’
‘I’m a clumsy idiot’
‘What a fool’
‘I know I can’t do it?’
‘That was so stupid’
The fact that most of your thoughts are recycled ones means that you could potentially revisit this verbal onslaught for days, even weeks or until something else happens to change your focus.
I believe it’s the equivalent of verbal abuse and for some people it is an every day occurrence. It is an unhealthy conversation with self that diminishes and undermines all the best intentions.
How can these thoughts be managed? Here are a few tips that I recommend;
•Mind your language
Awareness is the starting block. You need to hear yourself saying things to be able to do anything about it. And the minute you hear that ‘stupid idiot’ slipping out of your mouth, apologize to yourself and reframe what you wanted to say.
For example where my friend got caught up calling herself names a better option would have been for her to say: ‘Ok, this isn’t the first time I’ve misplaced my purse so once I’ve found it I am going to allocate one place to keep it in future.’
This way she creates an action and one that will save her having to search every shelf, every handbag or cupboard every time she is unable to find her purse! By following through with the action consistently for 21 days a new habit will be created and the name calling eliminated.
•Put your inner critic’s words into the mouth of your partner/child or friend
What does it sound like now? Would you let them get away with it? Is it acceptable? If it’s not acceptable when you imagine them saying it then it is not acceptable for you to beat yourself up that way either.
•Identify where the habit has come from
Are you focused on being perfect in everything you do? Have other people spoken to you negatively and you have absorbed their beliefs? Are you tying something from the past to the present be it from school or other environments?
Being able to identify why you reference particular names or statements can help you understand the pattern that has formed and then use one of the tips above to start breaking away from it.
•Allow yourself to make mistakes
Mistakes are part of your learning and development. It is through mistakes that we often see the better or right way of doing things. So allow yourself to make mistakes and do
not tie them to frustration, anger and unhealthy self talk.
When we treat ourselves with respect, others will follow. How do you want people to treat you? Be kind and stop calling ‘you’ names!