9/10/2004

How Strong Is Your Self-Image?

Filed under: — kerrip @ 10:47 am

By Dianne Schilling

Like most people, you probably don’t like it when people say negative things about you. You wish you could strike them (the words, not the people), wipe them away, replace them with positive statements. And you can’t. But what about the negative things you say about yourself? How much time have you invested cleaning up that slate?

Research shows that most of the things we say to ourselves about ourselves (approximately 87 percent) are negative. Put-downs and negative self-talk not only make us unhappy and discouraged, they become huge roadblocks to getting what we want.

Your subconscious mind- which is responsible for most of your behavior- can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. It behaves like a computer- recording every bit of input regardless of whether the words are true. Your subconscious then sets about to ensure that whatever you’ve told it becomes fact. So, for example, if you say, “I’m not clever enough to get that promotion,” your subconscious will make sure you say something dumb in the interview. It’s an absolute certainty: you can’t get positive results if you go around saying negative things about yourself.

Negative self-talk usually begins with words like “I can’t…” or “I’ll never…” or “If only I…” See if any of these look familiar:

• I can’t dance.

• I’m no good at math.

• I’ll never understand this stuff.

• If only I were thinner, they’d like me.

• If only I were richer, I’d have it made.

• I’m not smart enough.

• I’m not very good at meeting people.

• If only I had a different boss, I’d perform a lot better.

Take a few minutes to think about the recurring phrases that you alone can hear. Identify the negative ones and write them down.

What About Conflicting Messages? Sometimes you probably don’t even agree with yourself. For example, one day you’ll look at a tough situation and say to yourself, “I can accomplish anything I set my mind to,” and the next day you’ll approach the same situation and think, “This is a waste of time- I’m not getting anywhere.”

Keep in mind that when your subconscious is forced to choose between two conflicting messages, it will choose the strongest one. The strongest message is the one your brain hears most often with the most importance and emotion attached to it.

Reversing Negative Self-Talk. The opposite of negative self-talk is positive self-talk. A positive self-talk statement is called an affirmation. Look at the difference:

Negative: “I just can’t do this!”

Positive: “I’m getting better at this!”

Negative: “This just isn’t my day.”

Positive: “I’m having a good day!”

Negative: “I never get things right!”

Positive: “I’m going to keep trying. I know I can do it!”

Some positive affirmations work better than others. For maximum impact, affirmations need to be:

• Stated in positive language.

• Present tense.

For example, “I’m definitely going to get organized,” is not an effective affirmation. A better one is, “I am a neat and organized person.” Here’s another example: “I absolutely will not procrastinate on my next report.” A better affirmation would be, “I tackle projects right away and get them done in a timely manner.”

Affirmations may sound (and feel) a little stiff and unnatural at first, but don’t worry- they work anyway. Once you get the feel of affirmations, relax and develop your own style. For example, there’s nothing wrong with saying to yourself, “Girl, you are so cool. Look how you aced that assignment!” That’ll work, too!

What would you like to change? Write a few affirmations that will help you change something in your life. For example, if you want to lose weight, change, “It won’t matter if I eat this- just this once,” to “I’m pleased with myself. I’m not going to eat this- just this once.” Say it to yourself with emotion. Give it importance. Until you are accustomed to controlling your self-talk, concentrate on fixing one problem at a time.

Make lasting change. Don’t slip back into the habit of saying negative things about yourself. Here are some ways to make permanent change:

1. Pay attention to your self-talk and make a conscious effort to control it. First, listen to your self-talk. Second, catch yourself making negative statements and turn them into positive statements. Third, practice every day by consciously making positive statements about yourself.

2. Ask someone you trust to catch you when you make negative statements about yourself. Then change them to positive statements.

3. Reprogram yourself systematically with affirmations. Say each affirmation 30 times a day for 30 days.

4. Write down your affirmations and put them where you will see them. For example, in your wallet, on your bathroom mirror, or on the bulletin board over your desk.

Written by: Dianne Schilling
Submitted by: Kerri-Ann Price
(Jessie/twm/ryze/aug5,2004)

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