As a self-professed nerd and self-development addict, I have recently started the journey of having a life-coaching, the main reason being my life coach uses a curriculum, so there are set learning objectives and outcomes.This was a huge plus for me because I knew I would be pushed to learn and grow out of this.
My life coach, Andrea Owen (who has a great podcast btw), uses the work of Brene Brown around the concepts of shame and vulnerability and let me tell you, these concepts are powerful! If you haven’t heard of Brown and her work, I would encourage you to listen to one of her two TED talks or read one of her books (Daring Greatly is a good one to start with).
Few disclaimers about life-coaching that I should tell you here: most life-coaches are not therapists and are not reimbursed from insurance. They also tend to be more expensive than therapists.
I have learned so much from my life coaching, and I am not finished yet, but I want to talk some about negative self-talk.
The words we say to ourselves are so incredibly important and something I think we overlook. I do a tremendous amount of research on the brain and will infuse some brain basics in this to really drive home the importance of positive self-talk. Negative self-talk will likely look different for everyone, but for me, it is messages like “you are not good enough, why are you even trying,” or “who do you think you are, you are not qualified for this.” They also creep into what I believe and the stories I make up about relationships. Brown refers to negative self-talk as the gremlins in our brain. I think that visual is a nice one to really help drive the point home. When I think of gremlins, I think of those awful gremlins from the ’90s movie. Not a good look.
Think about your best friend. Would you talk to him or her the way you talk to yourself? Would you say the same things to him or her when they are feeling bad or upset as you say to yourself? Why are we okay with our internal dialogue being so negative even though we wouldn’t say those things to other people.
Negative talk frequently comes from the unconscious part of our brain that dictates most of our choices. Have you ever driven home and forgotten how you got there? That is the work of your unconscious brain. This means we probably aren’t always thinking about the things we say internally and we let those same messages go on repeat. When this happens, the messages begin to stick in our brain and feel real to us even if they are not. The brain is a powerful organ!
I have learned from personal experience that overcoming negative self-talk will change the way you see yourself and see the world. When I stopped the gremlins when they started to pop up and changed those thoughts my outlook on myself and life changed. It was crazy! A great first step is to try to identify the negative self-talk. If you are hearing negative words in your brain and they are making you feel bad, identify them as negative self-talk. Start first by literally internally telling the gremlins to stop. It sounds weird and hippy-dippy, but try it.
Eventually, the goal is to change the thoughts you hear in your brain and to replace them with other statements and affirmations. So, when you internally hear “you’re not qualified, so why are you even trying,” replace it with “I am qualified to do my job and am doing a great job at it.” Even if you don’t really believe that at the beginning, repeat it internally because remember, when you repeat things they get imprinted into your brain and you will start to believe them. Just flip the negative self-talk with the positive to have those outcomes that you want.
About the Author:
Jessica Sharp is a 27-year-old social justice advocate living in South Carolina. She works in healthcare diversity and loves her job. She is passionate about empowering underserved groups, diverse representation, and brain education. She regularly blogs for GenTwenty, but is stretching her wings a bit because she loves #NAMB!