Negative Self-dialogue - An Exercise
We may say things to ourselves such as:
"I never do things right."
"I always mess things up."
"I'm not good at anything."
"I can't do anything."
"Nothing I do ever turns out."
"I'm a failure."
"I'm an idiot."
The list goes on and on. When we engage in negative self-dialogue such as this, we have attached to expectation and outcome. We are identifying personally with outcome. We are defining ourselves by that outcome. We are falling into judgment against ourselves. We are adopting a negative view towards ourselves. We are disempowering ourselves. Instead of telling ourselves that we are capable, we are telling ourselves we are incapable. We may wonder why things like this "keep happening to us."
"Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or my-side bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses." -Wikipedia
What this means is, that our mind naturally seeks to prove whatever it believes. So if you speak negatively to and about yourself, you may very well be seeking to affirm those negative beliefs about yourself over and over again. Your very perspective about yourself may be influencing the outcome. You may be caught in a loop of a self-fulfilling prophecy, one which you have designed, are maintaining, and reinforcing. You may not even realize that you are doing this. You may be doing little things or not doing little things in order to keep yourself from having the outcome you desire and thus "proving" all those negative things you keep telling yourself.
It's really important to be aware of the tremendous impact of the thoughts you have about yourself. You have the power to choose to believe something different about yourself. First, you must become aware of your inner-dialogue and what it is saying. Next, you must put in the work to turn it around.
Let's work with the examples mentioned above. Let's flip the script. Use your imagination to think of ways you can turn this inner dialogue around to serve you instead of harm you. Journal about this if it helps you.
"I never do things right." > "I am always learning." "I am learning so much." "What have I learned today?." "I am figuring things out." "I am proud of myself for trying." "I am a courageous person because I try new things." "I'm going to find a new way." "I'm going to try a different way."
"I always mess things up." > "There are other factors that influence outcome." "I will focus on what is within my control and not on what isn't." "I can try again." "My intention matters more than the outcome." "Trial and error is a normal process of learning." "What can I take away from this experience that can help me?"
"I'm not good at anything." > "I am good at many things." "Here are things I am good at." "Here are some things I have achieved/overcome." "It takes time and practice to be good at something." "I'm going to keep trying." "I'm going to keep practicing." "What can I do next?"
"I can't do anything." > "I have done many things." "I can do many things." "The one thing I can always do is try." "I can give my best effort." "My best effort is good enough, no matter the outcome."
"Nothing I do ever turns out." > "What else can I try?" "What can I do differently?" "Here are some examples of things I have done that turned out." "I am a creative problem solver." "I'm smart." "I believe in myself."
"I'm a failure." > "I'm amazing." "I am so proud of myself for trying." "Mistakes don't define me." "Outcomes don't define me." "I will not attach myself emotionally to outcome." "I'm going to try again."
"I'm an idiot." > "I am capable." "I am powerful." "I can do this." "I can try again." "I can try this a different way." "I can apply what I have learned."
Work with your inner dialogue to figure out how you can flip the script. If it is not serving you, release it, let it go. Ask yourself, does this harm or help you? Does it harm or heal you? Choose anything that will either help or heal you. Practice saying positive affirmations to yourself. If it helps set an affirmation for the day and then repeat that affirmation throughout the day. If it helps, journal your affirmation. Be patient with yourself. Don't get hung up if you slip into negative self-dialogue. Just try and catch yourself and when you do, flip the script.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you had confirmation bias working for you, instead of against you? Proving to you how amazing and capable you are?
Tip: There are affirmation apps available for both Android and iPhone. These apps will remind you of your affirmations throughout the day to help keep you on track.