Voice in head needs to get on positive track
HAVE you ever looked in the mirror and didn’t like what you saw? Have you ever felt unhappy with yourself, and the feeling lingered for days? Do you often compare yourself with others and feel you are not good enough? Are you constantly telling yourself you’re stupid or can’t do anything right? Or, have you been terminated from a job and chastised yourself, thinking you must be a failure?
If these descriptors match some of your thoughts and you are consistently repeating these destructive words, you are probably suffering from low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence.
Low self-esteem occurs when individuals have low opinions of themselves. They judge themselves in a negative light, constantly put themselves down and devalue their overall being.
As a result, they may shrink from reaching out to others and become followers instead of leaders. They may feel they are victims and brush off any positive comments. At the extreme end, they may be sad and depressed, and become so negative about themselves and life in general they turn away potential friends who can’t deal with their negative views. They may even dress the part, in that they don’t look after their physical wellbeing either.
On the other hand, some individuals with low self-esteem work so hard you may think they are overachievers. They fear failure and push themselves to perform, yet they will quietly criticize their work, because nothing is good enough. At the same time, this type of individual will engage in significant dress-for-success initiatives to put on a show for the outside world. They need to appear to be perfect in public, but when they are at home they may drink to excess to drown their sorrows.
It is natural for an individual to lose some self-esteem when they lose a job, get divorced or lose out on a promotion. However, it is not natural to lose your self-esteem and self-confidence for a long period of time. If that’s the case, it’s time to seek help. You need to fight and combat your negative thoughts. That’s because self-esteem is absolutely critical and essential for your long-term psychological well-being and your survival in the work world.
In order to move forward and regain self-esteem, you need to recognize what is referred to by psychologists as the “pathological critic.” This is essentially the “voice” or inner dialogue that goes on in your head. This is the voice that undermines your selfworth on a daily basis. It whispers those negative words and phrases into your ear.
You might even be able to recognize this inner voice. It will be an adult figure from your early life such as your mother, father, teacher or religious figure. No matter what, the voice is always toxic and blaming, and always puts you down. Your task is to overcome this critical inner voice and replace negative comments with positive statements. The following three strategies will give you a good start.
First, work on making an accurate selfassessment of yourself by jotting down all the features of your physical appearance, how you relate to others, your personality and your current performance at school and/ or work. Document what you know people think of you. Make a list of your strengths and areas of challenge.
More importantly, make a list all the positive things you can think about yourself. Examine your achievements, no matter how small. Look at the challenges you have overcome. Examine problems you have resolved. Ask your friends what positives they can identify. Start a journal of positive thinking. Simply through listing positive descriptors, you will start to experience an increase in your self-esteem. Keep track of positive things that happen every day, and enter them in your journal.
Secondly, as you were growing up, you adopted a set of rules and assumptions learned from your parents and other adult figures. Look at your rules for succeeding in school and at work, for developing and sustaining friendships and for having fun. Pay particular attention to statements that use the words “should” or “ought to.” As soon as you hear these words, you know they are rules. Make a list of rules that no longer apply and which you want to challenge.
Determine where these outdated rules came from and why you feel they no longer apply to your current life. Think carefully about what rules would provide you with a more flexible and balanced life. Once you challenge and rewrite a personal rule, plan to put it into action. Then, the next time a negative thought from your critical inner voice attacks, you can recognize the negativity and stop it in its tracks. It takes practice, but it works.
A third strategy for overcoming a lack of self-esteem is to practice visualization. Athletes do this all the time. They see themselves racing across the finish line. They visualize themselves standing on the award podium with the gold medal. Visualization is a powerful and proven technique anyone can learn. And the reason it works is our minds and body react to imaginary scenes the same way they do with real experiences. In other words, your subconscious mind does not make a distinction between real and imaginary.
Self-esteem is critically important for success in life. When a person suffers from long-term low self-esteem, it is typically the result of years of conditioning and/or a sudden traumatic event. But no matter what, low self-esteem can indeed be overcome. For those who have suffered a long-term lack of self-esteem, I recommend getting professional help.
For those who have experienced an unfortunate trauma such as job loss or missing a promotional opportunity, perhaps talking with a counsellor and/or reading about selfesteem in a self-help book is all you might require. However, if low self-esteem lingers, please get professional help.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is each of us needs to continually self-monitor our moods and our thoughts. We need to be very much aware of how we think, how we behave and why we behave in a certain manner. When we recognize this, we can successfully manage our career and our personal lives. Remember, you are what you think.