5 things not to say.

Inspired by: http://www.yurielkaim.com/850/self-talk/

As you’re striving for more robust health, trying to recover from an illness, endeavoring to release weight or trying your best to reach your full potential as a human, you’re gonna get discouraged, mess up or want to stop. That’s the point. You’re stretching and growing, which involves rewiring your brainz.

Mistakes and setbacks are opportunities to take a look at what’s not working, where you might need to adjust your approach and that you might need help from a friend. So, in a sense, they’re good and things to be appreciated!

But unfortunately, mistakes and setbacks are often strictly challenged by the voice inside your head.

Your inner voice can be very loud, very mean, very convincing… and very wrong! Would you hang out with you if you said the things you said to you? 🙂 In other words, speak to yourself as you would to a friend.

Your inner voice can really hurt you since it’s somewhat subliminal. Moderating your inner critic can help lower stress and motivate you to continue striving towards your goals in the most positive way. As a bonus, it can also help you be more compassionate and forgiving of others. You might even see that there’s luck in some mistakes!

When your “inner voice” says these mean things, it’s often because you’ve bumped an emotional bruise. Ouch.

An emotional bruise is just like a regular bruise except instead of on your physical body, it’s on your emotional body. It’s a place where a bit of sadness, hurt or shame from a past event is stored. When memories of these feelings are stirred up, your inner self’s reaction is like a child’s: “Hey, leave that alone! Don’t look in there! Go away! Stop it!”

We all have emotional bruises. They’re inevitable. But you have the capacity to take control back from their knee-jerk, primal reactions… One way is to use your inner voice to describe things in a positive nurturing way. Give it a try because… wait, what did you say? “I’m so worth it?” Yup. You’re right!

These are the 5 things not to say to yourself:

  1. “I’m so stupid.”
  2. “I can’t do it”
  3. “I’m too _ (fat/skinny/ugly/dumb/awkward)
  4. “I’m a jerk.”
  5. “This always happens to me- it’s just how my life works.”

Let’s look at each in more detail:

1) “I’m so stupid.”

Wait. Are YOU stupid, or is it the thing you just did that’s stupid?

Did doing that thing cause your brain to spontaneously revert into a Neanderthal’s brain? Did your knuckles just get hairy and scraped up from dragging on the ground? I doubt it.

You’re smart- smart enough to recognize what you did wasn’t the ideal choice and smart enough to ponder what to do next time instead.

That thing you did was just an event that happened in a moment of time. It’s not a statement about who you are as a person. (Unless you hurt someone on purpose in which case, stupid’s the least of your worries.) You and the thing-you-did are not the same.

What to say instead?: “What I did was stupid but that’s not who I am.” (And, if necessary, “I’m sorry I threw your cell phone in a lake.”)


2) “I can’t do it.”

You’re always changing. There are things you certainly thought you never could achieve that you do with ease today (like read!)

You can potentially do it. I mean, you can’t fly without surrounding yourself with an airplane and you can’t learn Russian in 7 minutes and you can’t get a lunch date with Johnny Depp for next Saturday (…wait- can you? can i come?)

Think of the people you most admire- they likely earned your admiration because of a hurdle they overcame or a super-human feat they achieved. They’re just humans like you… but they probably see hurdles differently: instead of 25-foot walls, they probably see mere speed bumps.

What to say instead?: “It’s likely that I can do this- I’m gonna at least try.”


3) “I’m too fat/skinny/ugly/dumb/awkward.”

A lot of our perceptions of ourselves are built on how society and the media say we should look/act. They discount that the truest happiness, the stuff that bubbles up from deep inside us into a huge grin, comes from being ourselves. And unless we live inside the Stepford Wives movie, or in BarbieWorld, they’re wrong. I mean, they don’t really care… they just want our cash money. Forget them and give yourself permission to be yourself!

Now. Say there’s something about you that is holding you back from being your best self- say you’ve got some weight to release, or you’re not excelling the way you want to be… go ahead and challenge yourself to change. But please do it with compassion and love… use your inner voice to support yourself like you would support a close friend.


4) “I’m a jerk.”

You’re not a jerk. You probably just bumped an emotional bruise, felt some hurt/shame/anger that originated long ago and reacted in a mean way. It’s okay. You can either apologize to the person you were jerky to or just try again next time!

The most basic primal instinct your body has is to defend itself. Whether it’s a cougar or a hurtful memory, your body wants to keep things exactly the same. It thinks that this strategy is both safer and easier… but is it either? In the short term, maybe. But in the long term, it’s better to say:

What to say instead?: “I’m not a jerk… I just had a knee-jerk reaction because that thing that happened hurt/made me feel shame/made me angry. I think I’ll do it differently next time.”


5) “This always happens to me- it’s just how my life works.”

If negative things always happen to you, stop inviting them into your life. The more you convince yourself that bad things happen to you, the more you anticipate terrible things to happen. And they will happen more often because of it… you’re subconsciously paving the way for more frustration to come your way. It’s what they call it self-sabotage.

If good things happen, who do you “blame”? Do you take credit for achievements? Then how can you not take some credit for the bad things? External factors are involved, like bad luck and randomness, but good luck and fortuitous coincidences are there too.

A victim succumbs to the whims of the external environment. But it takes a leader to create what s/he wants in life. Not everything will work out but if you partner with your inner voice to focus on the positive, the “bad” things will slide off you like water from a duck and become much less significant.

I put “bad” in quotes because things that seem bad in the moment often add up to good fortune in the big picture. Plus, “bad” things are just opportunities to see how our approach is not working and what we need to do to shift so life gets awesome again.


What to do?

  1. Talk back to yourself like a gentle Grandma. “You’re wrong.” “NO, that’s not true.” “Be quiet, dear, I’m doing the best I can.”
  2. Imagine you’re talking to a friend who just did what you did. What would you say to them?
  3. Pay as much attention to all the positive, marvelous things you do as the little mistakes/setbacks.
  4. Say we’re in a boat on the river of life… instead of putting up a sail and forcing the direction, drop the sail, chuck the oars and let the current take you.

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