I was recently talking to a friend of mine about a few of the goals that I’m currently working towards and how difficult it’s been to remind myself of my own capabilities. For context, I am currently applying to graduate Ph.D. programs and find myself having to stop from wondering if I’m good enough for the programs that I’m applying to.
My friend felt the same way about some of their current endeavors, and it really got me thinking about how destructive this type of thinking is, especially as it prevails most heavily in underrepresented and underinvested communities. Really, this conversation served as another reminder about the importance of building myself up rather than tearing myself down.
Why Is It Important To Stop Negative Self-Talk?
I remember that I used to think that the occasional down talk towards myself was some sort of sign that I was never letting myself become content with life, constantly reminding myself that I could always be better and improve. However, as I have gotten older, I’ve realized that negative self-talk is NOT that at all, or any other positive attribute. Negative self-talk is just self doubt and a reflection of insecurities.
I had to remind myself that there are plenty of people in the world who will doubt you and try to put you down, so there is no need or reason for you to add to that negativity! I still do value self-improvement and making sure that I’m always working to become a better person, but it’s just as important to focus on improving how you treat yourself as you do others.
We frequently spend a lot of our time encouraging and uplifting the people we care about, but neglect extending that same level of care and love to ourselves. At the end of the day, we have to be kindest to ourselves first before we can extend that kindness to others (and accept it from others as well)!
But How Can You Stop Putting Yourself Down?
Getting out of the habit of negative self-talk and putting yourself down can be tricky, but it’s definitely possible! What has personally helped me is recognizing what my triggers are. What situations, tasks, and responsibilities make you feel incapable of doing something? Recognizing triggers has helped me identify when I might begin putting myself down.
I also like to stop myself in my tracks (now this is a work in progress for me but I’m trying!). I try to become aware of when I’m putting myself down while I’m doing it so that I can stop myself in the act. Then, I make myself turn that negative energy into positive energy by reaffirming my capabilities and pushing myself to believe in my strengths.
This is just what I’m doing right now to help me overcome putting myself down and negative self-talk, but seeking outside help is always extremely helpful as well. If you have access to a counselor, advising, or any mental health resources, I also highly recommend reaching out to them. These resources have been very effective in my personal life and provide an abundance of strategies to help with caring for yourself in a healthy manner.
Most importantly, don’t forget to give yourself daily kudos – you’re doing your best and that’s all that you or anyone else can ask of you. Your best is always enough.