If you’re familiar with my blog or my work, you know I’m a huge fan of affirmations and any kind of positive self-talk. Heck, I even wrote a book about it! So let me ask you-
Have you ever really observed how you talk to yourself? Some of us are not very nice to ourselves, and others are just plain abusive. What kinds of things do you say to yourself? Is your self-talk positive and loving? Or maybe you beat yourself up and tell yourself hurtful things?
Have you ever tried talking to yourself as you would speak with a friend? How would that feel? Try being understanding, considerate, and kind to yourself. You would do that for your friend, right? You would encourage her, or him or them, wouldn’t you? You can start doing the same for yourself right now. Acknowledging your feelings about yourself when you make a mistake or struggle and choosing to comfort and care for yourself is called “self-compassion.” Self-compassion promotes positive, healthy self-care practices and a healthy mindset, which help to heal codependency.
It’s not surprising to know that what we tell ourselves is linked to how we feel about ourselves. Changing your self-talk from an unsupportive inner dialogue to an uplifting and proactive one brings about positive change. But, if you beat yourself up for perceived failures or shortcomings, how does that help you? Does it motivate you to change? Does it keep you feeling bad and keep you stuck? How is it different from how your narcissistic mother treated you?
Do you tell yourself, “I’m just _______,” or “I’ve just always been this way,” or “that’s just how I’ve always been”? I have a couple of things to say about these types of comments: first, stop using the word “just.” When you add “just,” it implies that what you’re saying has low significance. It sounds apologetic and meek. Don’t believe me? Take the word “just” out of your self-talk. Say it with and without the word “just.” Do you see how it feels different? Are you more confident? Empowered? Serious? You tell me.
And what we say to ourselves isn’t only a description of what we believe about ourselves; it is a command. Your self-talk TELLS your mind what to think about you! When you tell yourself, “this is just who I am,” “I’ve always been _______,” or “I’ve always done ______,” it implies that there’s no room for change. These statements tell your brain, “this is it. This is final. There is no more.” Why would you want to do that? Chances are, you don’t know you’re doing it, and this is where self-awareness comes in. Start becoming aware of how you speak to yourself and the words that you use. Notice and take note for future reference.
Now, give yourself a break. You’re a human being, and no human being has ever been or will ever be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. Instead of comparing yourself to a non-existent standard, try focusing on your progress.
Results happen over time. Making positive life change is about progress, not perfection. Encourage yourself the way you’d encourage your friend or a small child. Tell yourself, “You’ve got this!” and eventually, you will get it! Be patient with yourself. It takes time to learn new things. Treating yourself with kindness, patience, and compassion does a lot towards reparenting yourself and healing your inner child too.
Thinking about and remembering what happened in our childhoods doesn’t promote healing. That’s where many of us get stuck. Recovery requires more than reading, educating ourselves, and revisiting old memories. It requires action: getting in touch with our feelings, prioritizing self-care, dumping limiting beliefs, learning to set boundaries and enforce them, learning new ways of communicating, increasing self-esteem and self-confidence, doing inner child and reparenting work, and emotionally detaching.
It means doing the work, and I believe it begins with changing our unconscious, negative self-talk.
More tools for healing:
Learn to set boundaries
Learn about dysfunctional family roles
Understand trauma bonds
Learn about codependency and maladaptive coping skills
Understand the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle
More resources to guide you in healing from childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect. Available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. (ebook, audiobook, hardcover, and paperback.)
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About the author
As a result of growing up in a dysfunctional home, and with the help of professional therapists and continued personal growth, Diane Metcalf has developed strong coping skills and healing strategies. She happily shares those insights with others who want to learn.
Her books and articles are the result of her education, knowledge, personal growth, and insight regarding her childhood experiences and subsequent recovery work.
Diane holds a Master of Science degree in Information Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has worked in numerous fields including domestic violence and abuse and is an experienced advocate, speaker, and writer about family dysfunction. Currently, she writes about recovery from narcissistic victim syndrome and symptoms of C-PTSD on The Toolbox and has authored three books in the “Lemon Moms” series. Visit her author’s website here.
She is no longer a practicing Social Worker, Counselor, Program Manager, or Advocate.
This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.