Self-care - watch your self-talk

Self-care is about valuing the person you are, not just on the outside but on the inside too.

We sometimes think of self-care as the physical things we do like taking exercise and eating well and, of course, they do matter. We sometimes neglect, however, to look at how we talk to ourselves in our minds, to look at our “self-talk”.

When you make a mistake how do you talk to yourself in your head? Does your critical voice step in and tell you that you are an “idiot” or “clumsy” or make some other negative comment? If so, you are not alone.
When this happens, your negative self-talk contributes to your limiting beliefs about yourself and you begin to believe the negative thoughts and this begins to erode your self-esteem. Sound familiar?
A good way to look at your self-talk is to ask yourself the following question,"would I speak to my closest friend in the same terms that I speak to myself?"
You would not call your friend an “idiot” if she/he made a mistake, why would you speak to yourself in that way?
Noticing and replacing negative self-talk, as part of your day-to-day self-care, takes time and practice. Our negative talk might be ingrained from our past experiences, so at first, it is enough just to notice how we talk to ourselves. Are we kind and compassionate or harsh and judgmental?

Once you notice your self-talk you can begin to separate yourself from it and to gain control over it. At first you notice it, then you might stop yourself and replace the negative talk with compassionate self-talk. You might then begin to notice when you do something well or a kind act for another person.
Take time to reflect on your own kindness and compassion. Why not celebrate your successes, however small? Why not notice the good about you? You are a human being and you matter. How you talk to yourself matters because if you can be compassionate towards yourself you can be compassionate towards others and the world needs more compassion right now!

Helpful tips:

  • Notice your self-talk. Are you kind or critical? This is the first step to making a change and of being kind to you.
  • Wear an elastic band and ping it when you catch yourself talking critically about yourself either out loud or in your self-talk.
  • Replace negative self-talk with kinder words about yourself.
  • Notice what you do well, how you help others.
  • Keep a journal and notice three positive things that you have done in your day. They might include small acts of kindness. The very act of writing positive affirmations reinforces the positive thoughts about you.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29
Written by Sheena Pickersgill, BA (Hons), Reg.MBACP Counsellor, Psychotherapist and Coach
Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29

Sheena Pickersgill is a counsellor, psychotherapist and coach living and practicing in West Yorkshire. She is the owner of Mindfresh Counselling and a registered member of the BACP. She gave up corporate life as a board director in the transport sector to follow her passion in the field of counselling and has never looked back.


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