How Not To Talk To Yourself

I’d say that the majority of us know that negative self-talk is counterproductive, harmful, and toxic to our self esteem. But when we make mistakes, we either fall into two categories: beating ourselves up OR talking ourselves out of our own negative feelings. 

Focusing on the latter, here’s an example: You just made a fool of yourself in front of other people. You said something awkward or out of place multiple times in the conversation, you tripped badly (which had the entire restaurant looking at you), and then you backed your car into a Porsche (am I speaking from personal experience? Maybe.) As these events transpired, you couldn’t help but feel bad. You beat yourself up for saying the wrong thing, for not being a certain way, and for making a mistake that anyone could make. What follows is that you realize that beating yourself up isn’t healthy and that you should brush things off, be “cool” about it, not let these things “get to you.” So you talk yourself out of feeling bad, embarrassed, upset, or any other negative emotion that might come up. 

The problem with this is that you begin to view negative feelings as something to reject or ignore in fear that paying attention to them will only make things worse. 

What I’ve come to find is that in between the two extremes – beating yourself up for mistakes or rejecting the negative feelings that arise from making mistakes – there’s a space for you to grow and learn. That space is what I like to call, Allowance and Forgiveness. You allow yourself to make mistakes, to feel terrible about them, to feel stupid and embarrassed and insecure and awkward and sad, but then you forgive yourself for not being perfect. You forgive yourself for having these moments and setbacks because you’re human. Similar to forgiving a friend who had no intention of hurting you (but did), you have the choice to be resentful or understanding. Skip the harsh treatment, punishment, or denial. Every experience and feeling has its place and serves its purpose in your life. You’re multidimensional, don’t forget that. 

The next time you feel bad, give yourself permission to feel bad. Don’t numb it, don’t deny it, don’t reject it, or discredit its value. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, then forgive, and let go. You need to give yourself the chance to fully accept your experiences (the good and bad) in order to move forward and grow.