Children are taught to be afraid. It starts with “you’ll fall if you climb that tree!” and proceeds to “You’ll never make a living being an artist!”. Negativity and self doubt is absorbed and becomes self talk.
Doug and I started paying attention to our thoughts in certain situations. We wondered why we never seemed to start new things, or to think in different ways about our potential in life. Any time we began to think outside the everyday (for us) pattern, there seemed to be a wall that sprang up, blocking us. It was easier to give up than to think our way through the blockage.
These walls were the “wisdom” we acquired as children. Worse, once we learned the negative self talk habit, we created our own walls. We create our own chains, or so goes the old saying ( I think)…
This self talk acts as a governor in life. It keeps us from being, well, it keeps us from being anything but what we are. We can dream about how we want to be different, but until we conquer the interior negativity, nothing will change for us.
We started thinking about what we wanted our life to be like. When the uneasy feelings popped up, like they do every time we thought about change, we looked closely at them. Much of the self talk sounded like our parents. Some of it came from old teachers (I’m looking at you, Mr.Christie!). We’re taught to follow the rules, to be safe, to be like everyone else. We’re not children anymore though, so Doug and I decided to get rid of this dusty old baggage and just do what we want to do. Monkeys don’t care what third grade teachers think about monkey business….
Negative self talk is really just put downs we repeat over and over… Some we learned and some we created ourselves. We drew a picture of our inner critic, and thought about all the lies he’s told us. We listed these lies below…
- You will never do anything!
- You’re sick again?
- You’re selfish.
- You’re lazy.
- You never finish anything!
- You never put stuff away.
- You don’t care.
- You’re not good enough at art.
- You’re not a real carpenter.
- You’ll get hurt!
- You waste time.
- You’ll fail.
- You’re not as smart as you think you are!
- You’re a failure.
- You’re mean.
- You’re too skinny.
- You don’t give enough.
Notice how there are a lot of absolutes… Never…Always. No one is always anything! Some of the self talk is almost funny. I haven’t been too skinny in decades, but I once was. It made me feel puny every time I was told that, and my self talk keeps on trying to make me feel puny.
Doug and I noticed that all the stuff we were telling ourselves isn’t even true, and most of it was NEVER true. We now have a face for our enemy, and can counter his talk. Any time we feel inadequate or tell ourselves “we can’t”, we will remember this list, and know that it’s all lies…
Imagine what your inner critic looks like. What does it say to you? Who does it sound like? Is anything it says true?
Make a list of all your negative self talk. Think about yourself living the life you dream of. When “reality” tries to bring you back down, what is it saying? Why should things that were drilled into you as a child still direct you in life? Write down all of the bad things you tell yourself about yourself…
Pretty sad, right? Now you know what your mind is telling you and you didn’t even realize it. Confront your inner critic. Realize that it’s a liar. Then, you can move on without all the baggage that holds everyone back.