Written by Brilliant Balance guest writer Shauna Van Bogart – speaker, content marketer, and communication specialist who is on a mission to remind women that taking care of themselves is a non-negotiable piece of the equation”.
How do you talk to yourself?
– Shauna Van Bogart
That’s how many times I spoke negatively about myself on Thursday. At least the number of times I was aware enough to catch it on the particular day I decided to run this little experiment.
28 times. I can only imagine the negative self-talk I didn’t manage to catch.
You know what scares me even most about this number? I consider myself (and truly feel) incredibly self-assured – for this I am blessed. My friends and family can testify to that. I don’t share this to sound like a braggart. I share this because as someone who generally feels pretty good about myself and my life, I still unintentionally bashed myself 2x during every waking hour that day. What about the people who don’t generally feel good about themselves? Or their life? Or feel fulfilled in their day-to-day? Or are not surrounded by people who support them?…
28 times. What did I catch myself thinking inside my head? Here’s the list minus the context in which they were thought (some are embarrassing but we’re being real here, folks):
- Those wrinkles are looking bigger every day.
- I wish my skin looked like that (comparing myself to another woman).
- I wish my gum line was more even.
- I’m overwhelmed – I did this to myself and I shouldn’t have.
- I don’t know if I’m capable to do this.
- I don’t look like that anymore.
- I shouldn’t have slept so late – I’m lazy.
- My posture is terrible – I know better than to slouch.
- I don’t have time to dress cute and frankly I don’t deserve to spend time looking good today. I have too much to do.
- I’m in over my head. What was I thinking?
- I hate that bump on my leg.
- I don’t know if I can do this.
- I need to be a better wife.
- I need to be a better boss.
- I feel guilty about neglecting my friends.
- I hate the way my hair looks in that video.
- I feel guilty about not having a healthy lunch.
- I think my boobs are shrinking. Yeah – they’re definitely shrinking.
- I’ll just do this (even though I don’t want to) because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough as a wife.
- If I could have had more time on that task, I would have made it better.
- I’m downing myself, I know better. Shame on me for allowing it to happen.
- I’m a fake – how can I preach productivity and be so unproductive this week?
- I have absolutely no length in my waist. Seriously. This skirt looks so awkward.
- Why am I not more creative? I need to be more creative.
- I should already know the answer to this.
- I need help but I’ll impose on them if I ask.
- She’s like the perfect wife – I so don’t do those things.
- I could have done more today. <— This one is my Achilles heel.
Ouch. Reading them makes me cringe more than actually saying them. Why? Because I’m shocked at the cringe that DIDN’T occur when they were said in the first place. Saddened by the fact that it was so naturally thought in my head that I didn’t even flinch when it came out. Now, as I sit and read the list, I’m horrified. I want to scream, I don’t really feel that way! I DO feel like a great boss, a great wife, and a productive human being!
That’s the scary reality. The reason we created this video:
We don’t realize what’s being said in our own heads, let alone what’s being said about ourselves in front of witnesses who are easily influenced.
What really gets me fired up is that we (including myself) justify keeping these statements around, even though we know not to, because we push blame to the exterior.
What do I mean by that? I mean, we avoid doing the work to overcome them and instead blame these occurrences on our environment.
Examples of how we shove blame to our environment:
It’s the media’s fault – look what expectations they set up for us. How can we NOT compare ourselves?
My work environment is incredibly negative. It’s ridiculously hard to remain positive, especially when my boss or peers speak condescendingly to me.
The people around me aren’t positive. My spouse doesn’t make me feel good so it’s hard to remain confident.OR It seems people just wants to use me – I feel drained.
Women are still behind politically and economically – what more do we have to do? Society needs to fix this.
NOTE: I am not saying that the above are not real issues. I am incredibly passionate about equal rights for women, the reality of negative people in our lives, and what the media does to our mindset. They’re issues – big ones. But I stand my ground in pointing out that at the core of all these things is ourselves and how we first and foremost feel about ourselves, our abilities, our confidence, and our inner strength. It starts with the interior. It starts with doing the hard work on oneself. It starts with self-awareness.
It changes with you. And it changes with me. We can’t change the world if we can’t change how we feel about ourselves first.
Now, let’s clarify one thing – as horrible as some of the above 28 statements sound, I’m still able to circle back around with a rational mind and self-correct, pat myself on the back, and express gratitude for the wonderful person I am. Because you know what? I like me. I’m not perfect (thank God). And because I do the work each and every day to be my Best Kept Self, I have vastly limited the negative self-talk that I do incur. I feel confident about squashing that number to as low as I can get it. I also relinquish all pressure to get that number to zero because come on, that’s not real either. And anyone who thinks so is instead striving for perfection, which in my opinion is denial, which perpetuates the problem even more. Yes – there will always be insecurities to manage. Keyword manage. And I gladly take on the challenge of managing them because I know I can do it and I’ve built a strong foundation with which to stand my ground against the self-attack.
This doesn’t make it right. And if there’s one takeaway from my experiment it’s this:
All statements ARE created equal.
Prior to this exercise of tracking my self-talk, I used to think, it’s okay – I don’t really mean it. I don’t fixate on it so it’s okay to let one or two slip out. Umm, no. Not okay – because it’s not 2, it’s 28.
Thoughts create your reality – you have to be careful with them! Justifying them by putting them on a spectrum of “only sort of bad” to “really eats at my core” doesn’t make any of them okay to think. Each negative thought is equal in terms of harm and the idea that we can get away with saying some and not others because some are “lighter” is only a means to keep on doing it.
Enough. It’s bad enough we spend precious time thinking them. It’s worse that we then justify them by spending time grading them on a spectrum of “kind of bad” to “really bad” so we can temporarily feel better about ourselves. It’s the equivalent of saying, “It was only one cigarette … not a pack, so it’s not that bad.”
A negative thought is a negative thought. Call it what it is and manage it. Only with this acceptance and self-awareness does our task get easier.
We can change the world for women. But not until we actually believe we can.
And we can’t believe we can until we actually believe in ourselves.
You matter. But you don’t need me to tell you this because I believe in your ability to be independently self-assured. That’s how much faith I have in you and your Best Kept Self. Don’t need it – live it. And then share it.
Shauna Van Bogart is a speaker, content marketer, and communication specialist. She founded and co-owns the leading online educational portal for image consultants (www.studioforimageprofessionals.com), is founder of the globally renowned online community for the self-employed, Best Kept Self (www.bestkeptself.com), and recently launched a new 30-day lifestyle cleanse that she calls The YES DIET (www.30daysofno.com). She’s been named one of the top personal branding specialists in the world by Huffington Post, a top 40 under 40 award winner, and one of the most influential women in business in Charleston, SC. She has a Master of Arts degree form Gonzaga University in Communication and Leadership and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in Communication Studies paired with an Entrepreneurship Certificate from the Tippie College of Business at Iowa.
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This is based on a blog post originally published October 20, 2016