I had one of those weeks last week where I got completely consumed by life. I became aware of my unexpected tax bill (thanks to my ex and my earning more) and all of a sudden I was sent into a few days of gloom. It hit me how hard I’ve been working to get ahead and I just felt all of a sudden that this is never going to end. Before i knew it i was swirling in a toilet bowl of negative self-talk.
I have gone through some shifts in my life within the last year and financially have had to work extra hours to add to my income and have felt a tremendous amount of responsibility on my shoulders. I do, after all have my two boys to think about. I am the sole provider. Single mom. I do get child support (for one son, the youngest son’s dad is out of the picture – a post I’m sure I will make in the future) but not a lot, and my children are with me full-time. They do not have weekly visits or every other weekend visits. They are my full-time responsibility. I am fortunate to work from home owning my own business (again, something I will get more into in-depth in the future) and am blessed that I can pick up extra work as much as I want as long as my body can hold up to the stress. However I have felt like I’ve been pushing myself to the max for about eight months straight (60-80 hour work weeks, plus breakfast, lunch, dinner, laundry, housekeeping, sick kids, etc.) and I still feel like I take a step forward and two steps back. I’m stressed so I’m drinking more wine lately (and even smoke at times disgusting I know and a habit I can say I am quitting today), I’m eating junk food more often and have put on about 20 pounds in the last eight months. I’m sure these are pretty typical, unhealthy ways of dealing with stress or life change you weren’t expecting, but here’s where it all goes wrong.
I recently overheard someone talking about me and this is what they said:
You are fat
You are lazy
You are a drunk
You are broke
You are stupid
You are unloveable
You are a horrible mother
You are never going to amount to anything
Pretty harsh huh? What’s even more harsh is that someone I heard was ME!! It’s the truth. That is what I recently heard myself saying about myself. But there is something you should know about me. When I have any kind of relationship (romantic, business, platonic friend whatever) and someone speaks of me like that I exit immediately. I don’t stick around in any relationship with anyone who would speak poorly to me. I find in those moments some self-respect and won’t stand for it. I hear what they are trying to say and (after the smoke from my road runner tires clears) determine whether it is valid or not, but then it’s always buh-bye. So why would I do this to myself?
You know the thing is we are always talking to ourselves. Our mind is working overtime with thoughts and observations about others and about us and running scenarios all day long. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until the other night. And I immediately began to think “You have to knock this crap off”! Of course my negative self-talk said “Make me!” So I will. This is my approach to doing just that:
- First and foremost try to focus on the present. Right this moment you are okay. You have everything you need. You have a roof over your head. You have a brain to use to find a solution to whatever the problem is. You have food. You have everything you need. So don’t panic.
- Would you speak like this to your child? I always go back to child analogies (like in my previous post on How to End a Toxic Relationship, in case you missed it click here) because I believe we all want the best for our children. If you saw them struggling with their weight would you say “You are a fat slob” (if you do you need to read another blog, maybe one on parenting), but most of us would not. We would be gentle and say “Hey let’s go for a walk or shoot some hoops”. So why can’t you do that to yourself. Yes I am putting on extra weight. “Let’s think of ways we can move and make better food choices.” Not say “Put down the donut fatty grub!”
- Be empathetic to yourself. Recognize that you are being too critical. Are you really an alcoholic? That’s a tough question to answer. And no, I do not believe drinking a couple glasses a night of wine means I have a problem (some studies recommend it!). Maybe I’m depending on it more now than I have in the past, and maybe recognizing that is the step to changing the habit. It is important to keep in mind that ridding yourself of negative self-talk does not mean lying to yourself. You need to be honest and recognize your current issues. You cannot lie to yourself to excuse destructive behavior. If you have a problem with lying, cheating, gambling, drinking, excessive spending or any self-destructive traits or habits please seek the proper attention, but know that you are not alone in the process. You are not the first with whatever problems you have and be empathetic to yourself, but allow yourself to do better.
- Be realistic. Am I broke? No. I have money to provide for my children, pay all the bills and put food on the table, get shoes, haircuts, underwear – whatever they NEED, maybe not all they want, but they definitely have what they need. Am I an idiot? No. I’m clearly not. I am not the best I can be, but I am a business owner who built her business on her own and have sustained it for 11 years now and have seen real growth. I (like us all) can benefit from more knowledge, but I am not an idiot.
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection – Buddha
What we say to ourselves makes a huge impact on our lives, our relationships and our general well-being. You cannot allow your inner drama queen to take control of your emotions. Catastrophizing our feelings only makes our problems worse. And who wants that? Not me! I’ll just take a small dose of my problems thank you, not an extra serving!!! Our thoughts and problems are here to help us grow, to be better people and isn’t that what life is about? Becoming the best you you can be? So try this:
- Name your negative thinker: I call my negative self Nelly. Negative Nelly is at it again. Give me a break! Yeah I need to focus more on my fitness and less on the Cheez-It’s (man they are so good though, white cheddar, yum!) but I’m not a hippo! Find whatever name best fits that trouble maker and call it out when you hear it.
- See the whole landscape, not just the weed: Try to keep in mind that this moment in your life is as minuscule as your pinky fingertip in relation to your whole life. This too shall pass. This one moment is not where you will be forever. This may be a spring-board for the greater things you are about to do, but it is not where you will stay. Life is ever-changing and I have been through some horrible times in my life that were much worse than this, like surviving the death of someone that I could not have loved more (that post is coming too stay tuned) and I learned to live through that. I’m not still living in that moment. So that means this moment will move by as well. I love the quote “You have 100% survival rate in dealing with crappy days to this point”. It’s true! This – whatever it is that is going on – will not define you!
- Be Grateful: Whatever your beliefs, God, the universe, whatever you pray to give thanks. Being grateful for the things we have takes our focus from the things we need help with. You can find something at any time to be grateful for. Even if it is that you didn’t completely lose your mind today, be thankful for that. Your health, your kids health, your family’s love, the roof over your head, the shoes on your feet, the hot shower, find something and give thanks for it. If you are grateful for what you have and put that out there, your attitude changes and you become more optimistic and when you are optimistic you can trigger those thought patterns that are going to help you be better.
- Help someone else. Giving our time for service is one of the best things you can do when you feel overwhelmed with your current life situations. There are plenty of people who need our help and the quickest way to get out of a foul mood is by helping someone else find their footing. This helps us to take the focus off our problems (as real as they are) and realize there are others in more desperate situations.
You cannot control everything that happens to you, but you can control the way you look at it. Stay mindful of your thoughts and feelings and also our actions towards others. And if you wouldn’t allow someone to call you names why would you allow yourself to do it? The closest relationship we will have is the one we have with ourselves. We are going to be with our thoughts and feelings 100% of the time until we leave this earth, why not take care of yourself and love yourself the way you deserve to be loved?
Take it easy on yourself. Breathe through it and know that this moment does not define you. You are human and you are not alone.
I would love to hear from you! How do you deal with negative self-talk? And as always, if you have any questions or topics you would like to share, please contact me!