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Self-Care Excerpt from Don't Weight

Flipping the Coin: Finding the Positive

Every time you think a critical thought, say hurtful things to yourself, or participate in negative self-talk, you are damaging your self-esteem. You see, you believe what you hear, especially from yourself. This kind of negative thinking or self-talk is like a burrowing insect that eats away at your self-esteem and self-confidence. You do not have to be the victim of this hurtful process. You can turn it around and brush away that burrowing insect of self-criticism.

The first step to reducing hurtful and negative thoughts is to increase your awareness of when you are saying hurtful and negative things to yourself. Listen to the way you talk to yourself. Would you say those same things to another person? Would you talk like that to someone who was entrusted to your care? Would you speak that way if you wanted to encourage somebody?

If a thought or comment would be hurtful

When addressed to someone else,

then it would be hurtful

when thought or said to you.

You may find that you even criticize yourself for even having negative thoughts. Don't. You have a better option. When you notice that you just talked to yourself in a negative way, don't feel bad that you "did it again". Instead, feel good that you intercepted that negative thought. Feel good that you are increasing your awareness! You must first notice that you participated in negative self-talk before you can begin to stop it. The question is; what do you DO when you notice negative self-talk? The answer: DISAGREE. Disagree thoroughly. Disagree vehemently.

Think or say your disagreement in your mind with full sentences, in full paragraphs, with expletives. Or you can speak out loud about your disagreement (this works best if you are alone somewhere.) The more clearly you voice your disagreement, the more you can brush away the burrowing insect of self-criticism. It really works. Your clear positive statements to yourself prevent you from believing the old negative thoughts that you were taught.

 

Cloe

At forty-seven years old, Cloe was thinking about going to college. These were the thoughts running through Cloe's mind as she was trying to make the decision:

(Negative thoughts)

  • College is for kids and I'm too old.
  • I've been uneducated for this long, what's the difference if I spend twenty more years uneducated?
  • I can't do this. I'm not smart enough. I'm not good enough.
  • There is no reason for me to go back to school.
  • I can never make decisions. I don't even know what I want to do with my life.

If Cloe had a friend who was thinking about going to school, would she say those kinds of things to her friend? I don't think so. If Cloe's adult son were making this same decision, would she speak to him this way? I don't think so. Suddenly, Cloe had realized she was saying nasty things to herself that she would never say to other people. With that realization, she had the opportunity to change. She could stop her negative self-talk by disagreeing vehemently with those old hurtful concepts she had been taught. She found herself saying instead:

(Positive thoughts)

  • Anybody can go to college. I have every right to go to college! I like using my mind. I enjoy learning.
  • I have learned a lot from the education life has given me so far. Now I want to add some formal education to the knowledge I have already acquired.
  • I can do this. Of course I'm smart enough. I am a valuable person. I am a good person.
  • I have many reasons to go back to school. I have practical, financial, and emotional reasons to go back to school. My reasons count. My reasons matter.
  • I have the courage to struggle with making decisions, even though it is difficult for me. I will think it through. I will use my courage to persevere and make a choice. I have made a million choices in my life. I WILL make this choice too.
  • Life is such a wonder. Here I am at forty-seven and the doors are wide open. My life is an unwritten book and I am the author. I can write what I want on those pages. How exciting. I get to decide what I want to do with my life. MY life.

 

Yes, Cloe did vehemently disagree with the first list of negative thoughts. She disagreed at length, in full sentences, in full paragraphs. Can you imagine that those negative thoughts would be pretty far away by the time she thought about these positive topics for a while? She did not let the burrowing insect of self-doubt get in and eat away at her self-esteem. It worked.

At fifty years old she had completed her associates degree. Now, at the time of this writing, she has completed her Bachelor's Degree! She is still open for what she wants to do with her life. She is excited! There is great power to being able to "flip the coin" and turn negative into positive.

You can actually construct the positive image of yourself in your mind by disagreeing with the negative. You can flip the coin and experience yourself as a more positive person. You too can literally rebuild your self-esteem, just like Cloe!

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By Kelly Bliss M.Ed., A.C.E. author of Don’t Weight, Eat Healthy & Get Moving NOW!
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