Okay… so the truth is, you don’t HAVE to do anything.
There aren’t any rules which you must absolutely follow in order to find more happiness and joy in your life. For some people, finding peace of mind is simple, it comes easy. For others, it is a constant struggle.
We often expect so much from ourselves and tend to put ourselves down when things don’t go as planned. Other times, we make excuses and tell ourselves that things are what they are and there’s no sense in trying to change them.
Well, every now and then you do need to realize though that change doesn’t happen by itself. The only way for things to change is by making a decision to make that change. This often involves getting rid of things that limit you- including your self-talk.
Some of the things you tell yourself are straight-up lies. And yes, that pesky, annoying little voice in your head sometimes loves to criticize and say mean things, words which sometimes hurt and stab.
THINGS YOU HAVE TO STOP TELLING YOURSELF
TELLING YOURSELF: “I CAN’T”
By constantly telling yourself you can’t, you are reinforcing that message in your mind. Very often “I can’t” is one of the first things that come to mind whenever you are presented with a new or exciting opportunity or have an interesting creative idea. You might feel fear, you might feel intimidated, so the first thing that comes to your mind is “I can’t” even though most of the time you mean, or want to say “I won’t.”
Here’s how you can put things into perspective. First, think about all the “can’t”s you’ve already overcome. We all have done and gone through things that at one point seemed impossible. Second, replace your “I can’t” with “I choose not to.” Now, this is something that really makes you think. If, for example, you always tell yourself “I cant’ work out today” instead, tell yourself “I choose not to workout today.” This is something that helped me learn to hold myself accountable. If, for any reason, this seems a bit too harsh, then replace your “I can’t” with “how can I (fill in the blank)?”
Whatever it is that you’re after, whether it be a really small, or a drastic change, keep pushing and don’t give up. Don’t doubt yourself. Never, ever talk about the things you want to accomplish in a negative light (i.e. “I’ll never be able to____ because I ____“). This is not only the biggest turnoff but it also sends out a message: “I don’t believe in myself.” If you come across some sort of roadblock, go around it, find another way. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t be, do, try or accomplish something.
TELLING YOURSELF: “IT’S TOO LATE FOR ME”
Some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met are still trying to figure a lot of things out, some of them change careers every few years. Yet, they are some of the most interesting, happy and fun people to be around.
If I’m being honest, I often fall into that trap too, thinking that I have yet to do so many things. What you need to realize is that you have to live your life on your own terms. This invisible timeframe, a timeline, by which we think we should accomplish, do, start and try different things, doesn’t exist. Our lives, circumstances and us- are all different. Who says that you need to fall in love and start a family by 25? Who says that you need to know what you want to do for a living at 18 when you start college? Who says that you need to have a house by the time you turn 30? Who says that you can’t go back to school after raising your children? I know of people who transformed their lives after turning 50. People who changed their lives, found passion, fell in love again. People often act like there are certain things you shouldn’t do once reach a certain age. And this always makes me think: SAYS WHO?
So no, it’s never too late. It’s never too late to do things that will make you happy. It’s never too late make your life better, to turn things around, to shake things up.
TELLING YOURSELF: “I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH”
Out of all the things you have to stop telling yourself, letting go of this particular habit is very hard to unlearn. It can take years- especially if it’s something you’ve been told for a long time, by someone else (like a parent, growing up). I know this because it’s something that took me years to get over. The longer you keep telling yourself something, over and over again, the easier it becomes to believe it. You tell yourself lies, which eventually become your reality, things you believe to be true. That, my friends, is how you start to limit yourself.
What makes a person “good enough” anyway? Think about it. What makes one person better than the other? Sometimes we use these “I’m not smart enoughs” or “I’m not good enoughs” because we look for excuses. If you want to accomplish something (and it could be literally anything), it’s persistence and hard work that bring results. It’s believing in yourself. If you do not have a strong support system, people who encourage you, become your own support system! There are so many people defying the odds, people with disabilities, people who struggled their entire lives, people who didn’t have any love or support- people who didn’t stop those things from doing and going after their goals. Just because your circumstances are different from someone else’s, just because you think that someone else is “just lucky” it doesn’t make you any less worthy or capable of doing the things you love or having an amazing life.
TELLING YOURSELF: “I’M STUPID”
This one is close and dear to my heart. Why? Because it’s something I used to tell myself all the time, on daily basis.
Whenever I did something wrong, made a mistake, did something embarrassing or silly. It was almost as if I just couldn’t do anything right and my brain would constantly go into overdrive mode trying to find small mistakes, things I’ve said or anything else that I could blame or criticise myself for. It eventually led me to develop social anxiety and I would not be able to attend any kind of social event (even having friends over for a football game or dinner) without having to reach for meds that would calm me down. Many years ago I read a book where the author suggested that you should only talk to yourself the way you’d talk to a much younger version of yourself. See yourself as that little girl (or a boy) and think: “would I tell her that she’s stupid? Would I criticize and berate her for a small mistake?”
Chances are, you wouldn’t.
So why do it to yourself now?
Harsh criticism isn’t the only way to stay inspire or to encourage a change. There is a difference between scolding yourself and holding yourself accountable for your actions. A life-long habit is not easy to break, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
HOW DO I STOP?
First, you need to become aware of the things you tell yourself. If you were to listen to everything you tell yourself on a daily basis, would you be able to recall words of encouragement?
Once you raise your awareness, you have to acknowledge that some of the things you tell yourself, do not serve you. By being mindful and returning to the present moment you can create more clarity and learn to recognize these thoughts as they occur. If you have a life-long habit of discouraging yourself by saying things like “I can’t” then you might find it difficult to even recognize it, as you’ve grown so used to hearing that from yourself. Becoming more aware will help you recognize those patterns.