A Guest Post by Jen Bundrant
Growing up can be very difficult. Many adolescents are struggling with bullies who pick on them, tear them down, abuse them, torture them, and make them feel absolutely terrible about themselves.
One in five students reports being bullied at some point in their youth. It is a heartbreaking number, but luckily more and more people are speaking out against bullying. The statistics have dropped significantly since 2003, according to recent studies.
While this is great news, and hopefully those numbers will continue to drop until bullying is a thing of the past, our greatest bully is yet to be faced: Ourselves.
We are our own worst bully, and this bully doesn’t graduate and move away. We cannot turn this bully into the principal to be punished or tell on them to our parents. So, our bully stays with us throughout school and into our adult lives.
How we are bullying ourselves is through negative self-talk.
What this means is the little or sometimes loud voice in our heads is limiting our own potential. We all have an inner dialogue that is constantly conversing with ourselves every single second of every single day. This helps us weigh decisions, plan, organize, make judgments, and so on.
When we develop negative self-talk, it can actually harm us and prevent us from functioning properly. If you begin to tell yourself that you’re fat, ugly, and unworthy of love, it is going to prevent you from loving your body enough to feed it healthy foods, feeling beautiful/handsome, and feeling confident enough to go after the person you could be interested in.
If you’re already in a relationship and are constantly thinking negative thoughts about yourself, your partner will eventually catch on to it and possibly decide that they deserve better. Some people even take their own self-hatred and project it onto their partner, resulting in an abusive and toxic relationship.
Negative self-talk will affect every single area of your life.
It can hold you back from pursuing the career that you desire and that you actually deserve, by telling you that you aren’t enough.
Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not outgoing enough. Not pretty enough. Not thin enough. Not strong enough. Not calm enough. Not happy enough. Not (insert any adjective here) enough.
In this article, we will go over 5 ways to stop negative self-talk, so that you can start feeling like you are enough:
1. Keep a journal.
Most people keep a private journal as a safe space for them to get all of their thoughts out of their head and onto paper. Whether they are positive thoughts or negative thoughts doesn’t matter, just getting them out is the key.
There is something about the physical act of writing out what you are thinking so that your thoughts become a visible object, that feels like a release. You will also get to see the words that your inner bully has been telling you over and over again, which makes it easier to not listen to it. You will see how ridiculous that voice really is and how unrealistic it can be.
Journaling can also be a way to track what triggers that inner bully, which makes it easier to identify when to become aware of it in your daily life.
2. Make gratitude a habit.
We are creatures of habit. Negative self-talk is a habit that we get ourselves into without consciously realizing it. This particularly bad habit makes it really easy for our inner bully to perpetuate our self-hatred.
It holds us back from living our best lives. The good news is, is that our habits can change. We are able to develop healthy habits with a little practice. In order to stop negative self-talk, creating a habit of gratitude and self-love can help immensely.
Every single morning for 21 days, simply write out a list of 10-20 things you are grateful for and that you love about yourself.
This actually rewires our brain to think more loving thoughts, and to see all of the amazing things in ourselves and our lives that we love and should appreciate.
3. Mindfulness meditation.
Meditation and mindfulness breathing has been known to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. It is a way for us to center ourselves and create an awareness of our body and our thoughts.
Bringing your mind to that calm and relaxed state that one feels when deep in meditation allows for a clear observation of the thoughts that bubble up to the surface. It gives us a safe space to explore the feelings related to those thoughts and time to process them.
A daily mindful meditation practice can help you silence your inner bully once and for all. This can be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour of practice per day.
4. “I AM” affirmations.
Self-affirmations are a great way to stop negative self-talk. You can either write them out on paper and repeat it back to yourself, or speak the words out loud during meditation. The whole trick to it is keeping it short, sweet, and simple. For example, “I AM powerful. I AM strong. I AM beautiful. I AM healthy. I AM worthy of unconditional love.”
However, if you do not have the right intention while doing this practice, it will not work as well. It might even feel strange at first, or you might not believe in what you are saying fully. The whole point of it being practice is that you must continually work at it in order to see improvement.
5. Notice when the negative self-talk arises.
While this may seem simple and obvious, this is extremely important and can be difficult to accomplish. We become so used to that inner bully that we sometimes forget that it should not be allowed there, in spite of the full-body stress.
The practices I mentioned previously should help you become more aware of the thoughts you have on a daily basis. When you notice that negativity arise, or when your inner bully gets triggered, first breathe through it.
Take 2-3 mindful and deep breaths, in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, then slowly breathe out through pursed lips for 6 seconds.
This method will help you center yourself so you can think more clearly, and has been proven to help people feel calmer when they’re in a panicked or highly anxious/nervous state. Identify where your self-talk became negative, why it did, and switch it into something positive.
You can change a belief such as “I’m going to completely fail this presentation” into “I may be nervous for this presentation, but that will not stop me from trying my best”. It’s simple, yet effective.