Cancel the Self Doubt and Turn Up the Volume on Self Appreciation

By Sheila Ferguson Ph.D., LPCC

Whenever I get tired of waiting on the desired outcome or feel a little doubtful about the development of a project I am working on, I start to worry. Without fail, it always kicks off a cycle of negative self-talk. Then comes all of the could-haves, should-haves, and other vocalized fears about something not unfolding as planned. I might even start questioning if I did something wrong. But after getting worked up about all of the details, I know I have to stop this negative self-talk. After getting my wits about me, I remember my Aunt Daris’ wise saying: “It’s a poor frog that doesn’t praise its own pond. Always have faith and believe in yourself no matter what! And make sure not to get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired when fighting your way through something hard! Breathe and pray!”

As I have matured, I have gotten better at not letting my emotions get me. Now I work at taking the high road by adopting a little prayerfulness, patience and flexibility, and an attitude of gratitude. Adopting some of these habits may help you too, just as they have helped me. I hold on to these truths about how beautiful my life is. And I give thanks for every time I get to laugh over the little things—like talking about the price of a loaf of bread in 1967 with a senior in the grocery checkout line, seeing a toddler running through a sprinkler with glee, or hearing that I’ve won a $500 gift card for being the 900th person to sign up for a gas card. Every day I give thanks for my health and that of my family and supportive friends who get me! I have even started to accept that I do not have to be perfect, and that life is not perfect either. All of this is to say that it is OK for me to go easier on myself and not be so driven.

Since most of us are committed to doing our best and making a difference, it is easy to get loaded up on negative self-talk, especially when we get tired, overwhelmed, or burned out. Negative self-talk can be so automatic that we do not know that we have fallen down the trap door. If you are prone to negative self-talk, make every effort to shift towards a more positive outlook.

Negative self-talk is a habit pattern, so you may not always be aware of it until you feel utterly drained. It is an unconscious behavior that only you have the power to stop. Try to get yourself to do something good for your energy and self-esteem by interrupting the following behaviors:

  • Thinking that you did not perform at your best
  • Thinking that you do not believe that you or your accomplishments are good enough
  • Not being able to let go of feeling upset, awkward, and irritable about things not working out
  • Relying on everyone else’s impression about your performance in difficult life situations

Turning up the Volume On Positive Self-talk

Accept the mission that you are responsible for loving, appreciating, and celebrating yourself. Begin feeding yourself a steady diet of self-love and self-acceptance. Move throughout the day by:

  • Smiling at yourself in the mirror every morning
  • Laughing often
  • Owning your strengths and weaknesses
  • Telling yourself how wonderful you are
  • Creating an affirmation that helps you believe the best about you and your life. Good examples might include – “I am deserving of love; I am capable; I am happy with a joyful attitude about life; I am successful; I am doing the best I can.”
  • Starting an appreciation journal whereby you begin to take stock daily of all the things you are thankful for and the beautiful things manifesting in your life