No one taught you this as a kid
When was the last time you heard someone say:
“Calm down. You’re fine. It’s not that big of a deal.” Or...
“Nah, I wouldn’t do that. You know what you should do…”
When was the last time you heard yourself say:
“Why am I feeling this way? What’s wrong with me?” Or...
“There I go, messing up again.”
Whether it’s these exact words or something a little different, we’ve all heard them. Even worse, we use them on ourselves. And if you’re like most people, you don’t just engage in negative self-talk sometimes. You do it often, even daily.
Think it’s mostly harmless? Think again. While it’s certainly unconscious and unintentional, it’s phrases like these that constantly reinforce the following: your feelings can’t be trusted, and you can’t trust yourself. Here’s the thing...
Ever since childhood, you’ve been taught not to trust yourself.
Most people have good intentions. We know our parents and families did the very best they could with what they knew at the time. But most of our parents weren’t openly taught about self-trust or how to cultivate it. Nor their parents, nor their parents’ parents. More than likely, neither were you.
Not only were you not taught how to trust yourself, but instead you were taught how to tune out your inner voice and rely - first and foremost - on external validation. Above all else, children are encouraged to behave and listen to others; to do what their family or society expects of them.
When it comes to avoiding danger and learning social skills, this is all well and good. But when it comes to pretty much everything else, instead of using our own feelings and intuition as a compass, we’re taught to use our heads or trust the advice of others (experts, authorities, parents and the like.)
So, why does this whole self-trust thing matter so much?
Lack of self-trust impairs our ability to stay true to ourselves and make the most important decisions in life.
Every time you quietly go along with what appears to be right even though it doesn’t feel good to you, you are chipping away at your relationship with yourself.
Every time you reject your negative emotions in order to just “get over it,” you’re damaging that all-important self-trust.
When it comes down to it, these are small acts of self-betrayal. Over the span of childhood, adolescence and years into adulthood, these small acts really add up. So of course we don’t trust ourselves. Would you trust someone who’s spent decades betraying you (even unconsciously) again and again?
Without a strong sense of self-trust:
We can find ourselves stuck in paralyzing indecision, or wondering why we keep choosing the wrong thing for ourselves.
We tend to spend more time worrying about possible future outcomes than we do enjoying the present moment.
When faced with big life choices (which partner to choose, what career path to take, whether to move or stay), we tend to waste countless hours debating, analyzing, researching and over-planning, only to remain doubtful and unsure.
One of the biggest ways we betray ourselves is with negative self-talk.
Our minds are always thinking, imagining and narrating for us. The narrating part is that “little voice” in our heads that always seems to have something to say.
Let’s be honest… Frankly, the little voice loves to run her mouth. She can be a bit of a drama queen. And when left unchecked, she can get really judge-y of us and others.
Not surprisingly, the little voice in our heads LOVES negative self-talk. Here’s a clip from my narration just the other day:
“Ooh, what’s that smell? Pizza? I love pizza. But I probably shouldn’t eat it so often. Is twice a week often? Man, I really eat too much pizza. No wonder these pants feel tight today. I’m so unhealthy.”
Again, back to self-trust. Take it from me, the pizza lover. Would you fully trust someone who criticized and talked down to you all the time?
The good news is, you are the script writer. You get to choose what’s narrated by your little voice from moment to moment.
Because the script is automatic, this requires you to be more conscious and intentional with your thoughts. With enough practice over time, you can turn this habitual trash-talker into the inner cheerleader of your dreams. All it takes is noticing that the script is running and flipping it into something positive and true.
Armed with this insight, now you can choose to interrupt the pattern and build an abundance of self-trust.
Bring this new awareness to your thoughts each day. At least once per day, try to catch yourself in the act.
The next time you notice your automatic thoughts either beating yourself up (“that was such a stupid mistake”) or rejecting you altogether (“I gotta stop feeling this way”), use it as the golden opportunity it is. It’s a chance to break the cycle and build trust with your REAL best friend: yourself.
Replace that automatic negative thought with a loving truth. For example:
“Yep, I made a mistake. I feel SO frustrated right now. And I also know that I’m always doing my best. I’m still the amazing human being I was five minutes ago. I choose to use this as learning and continue doing my best. By forgiving me, I know I’ll show up better for myself and others.”
Or, if it helps, speak to yourself in the second person:
“Samara, you’re feeling really pissed off and angry right now. And that’s okay. All people feel this way sometimes. Even Tony Robbins. Or Beyoncé. Or Cinderella. It’s part of the human experience that we all signed up for. What is this anger trying to show you about yourself, your needs or your boundaries?”
Ahhh. Thanks. That’s better.
Because really, would you tell your best friend that she made a stupid mistake, or to stop feeling that way? Heck no. You would help her feel heard and understood. You would validate her emotions. You’d be honest and real with her, but you’d say it in a nurturing way that gave her empathy and confidence.
Why? Because she’s awesome. She’s your home girl. And whether she sees it or believes it yet or not, she deserves to hear how great she is. Not just once a day, but many times every day.
It’s absolutely wonderful when other people love on us. But it’s even more important that we do it ourselves.
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