The endless assortment of messages, feelings, and attitudes we bring from our past into our present influences how we see ourselves. It also directly impacts our ability to relate to others.
While growing up, we learned to judge ourselves and our capabilities based on how others saw us. Whether their judgments were complimentary or condemning (or accurate or inaccurate), we soaked up all that feedback, stuffed it inside our heads, and are still likely to be carrying it around.
If the messages were disempowering, it’s a heavy load and can weigh us down, as well as take us down. These messages form a kind of “database” of information, around which we form our sense of reality and our relationship to the world.
Your self-image serves as a sieve, filtering every experience and interaction and creates a running inner dialogue. You talk to yourself constantly about all of your experiences – what you think about yourself, the way you see others, how they react to you, and how you relate to them – it never stops. This ongoing, internal dialogue is your “self-talk,” and it goes with you everywhere. When these private conversations are positive, they support you and work in your best interest. When they’re negative, they’re destructive and demoralizing.
In fact, in my executive, group and life coaching sessions, one the major drawbacks for many people to move ahead is self doubt.
Think of negative self-talk as outdated, erroneous computer data that was likely programmed by well-meaning but (sometimes) misguided souls. Negative inner dialogue is like a computer virus that infects the operating system, damaging or destroying it. On a human level, it’s the equivalent of distorting the truth of your personal worth and value.
Negative self-talk belittles your potential, makes you feel undeserving and unworthy, and inhibits the achievement of your dreams, including enjoying fabulous relationships. It chatters on and on, often spinning out of control, feeding your brain messages that you blindly accept as your truth.
To override the destructive messages that formerly ran your personal operating system (you!), delete the misinformation by installing a new program – positive self-talk. This instructs your mind to carry out messages related to successful performance.
This time you’re the programmer (and a most determined one!); this time you’ll install the right software in the form of accurate, updated, verified data. To complete the installation correctly requires continual monitoring (a human form of virus scanning) for any toxic thoughts or infected data.
Your ability to connect with others is greatly influenced by your self-image. If you internalize negative messages, they’re destructive to your confidence and can erode your relationships in subtle, yet significant ways. They’re trash, so discard them now!