You Can’t Talk To Me Like That!

I was standing in line at our favorite discount superstore, and overheard two women talking about something one of them had done (couldn’t tell what it was). She was recounting how stupid she had been, and how it was typical. “I’m always doing that, I’m such an idiot”, she said.

Now fast-forward to last night. I was at my local Toastmasters club meeting, and one of our members gave a speech on a similar topic in which his daughter came home from a soccer tryout disappointed, and was assessing her chances. “I’m not as good as the other girls, I don’t think I’ll be able to make the team. I’m just not very good”.

Do You Let Others Talk To You Like That?

Now take either of those messages, but suppose someone else said that to you. “You’re such an idiot, you’re always doing that.” “You’re just not as good as the rest of them, you might as well quit and go home.” For most of us, them’s fightin’ words. Yet we say that to ourselves!!??

    “I’m not as successful as they are.”
    “I’m not as pretty as she is.”
    “I’m fat.”
    “I’m no good at this.”
    “How can I be so stupid?”

What’s worse is that these internal conversations are generally very subtle, so “under the radar” that we hardly notice them. But make no mistake, they’re there, and probably more often than you might think. They can be indicators of our self-esteem, which has an important impact on our ability to achieve our dreams.

Is That Cursing?

Back to last nights speech. The speaker’s response to his daughter was “I don’t want to hear you cursing like that”. Apparently his daughter, like those of us in the audience, paused for a moment to recall what she’d said and tried to remember where the inadvertent curse word slipped out. “But dad”, she replied, “I didn’t curse”.

“Oh yes you did. You cursed yourself and said things I would never let someone else say to you.” In that moment, I saw people starting to realize what he was talking about, and that he was right.

There is no shortage of evidence that self-depreciation gets in the way of all kinds of personal development and progress (not to mention happiness), and I dare say it makes achievement much harder when you you’ve got a conversation going that says “aha – you screwed up again, this will never work”. Developing positive self-esteem is a personal challenge, but it’s an important part of being happy, and helps us be ourselves, and believe that we are able to prevail in life.

Low self-esteem, which may be evidenced by self-depreciation, is a belief that we’re not good enough to deal with the things that may come our way. It’s poison to our mind, and is related to a variety of difficult mental and emotional problems, including a belief that we can’t achieve our goals.

For more on self-esteem, read this page about a widely used scale for measuring self-esteem.

In The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz breaks the problem of low self-esteem and self-deprecating internal messages into an easy analogy: Which channel are you tuning into? We each have 2 channels that play in our heads: one positive, and the other negative. If this is a problem for you, the next time you catch yourself tuned into The Negative Channel, switch to The Positive Channel. Make a conscious effort to begin playing back the successes you’ve had, the things you’ve done right and the times you tackled a challenge, persevered thru the difficulties and prevailed. We’ve all had them, but for whatever reason we don’t give them enough awareness.

The Challenge

I’m not naive enough to think this is an easy issue to deal with. In the same way any habit is formed slowly over time, un-learning it must be done with deliberate, consistent effort over time.

    As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. — Henry David Thoreau

That’s the point. If this “cursing” is a mental habit that’s interfering with achieving your goals, start creating that new pathway, start building over and over those new neural pathways in the mind, to replace the old, negative ones. It’s not magic, but it takes consistent attention and awareness.

Change The Channel

I realize that this post won’t resonate with everyone – some people don’t have this issue to deal with. For those who do, though, I hope it helps raise to your consciousness just a little to the problem and encourages you to change the channel and deal with it so it doesn’t derail your opportunity to succeed.

So … quit talking to yourself in a way that you’d never tolerate if it were coming from someone else. Tune to The Positive Channel as a way to nurture the kind of attitude that will HELP your goal seeking efforts, not stymie them.

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