Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beautiful Blogging ~ Self-Esteem Part II

As promised last week, Beautiful Blogging this week will focus on positive self-talk which is essential if you want to achieve a healthy self-esteem!  Click here if you missed last week's post on self-esteem.  Self-talk is a pattern of behavior/thought that we usually establish in childhood.  Self-talk is the message or thought we send ourselves all day long - "gosh I am so stupid why did I forget to pick up the milk" or "oops forgot the milk but that's okay, I'll get it later, no biggy."  Most of us are unaware of what type of self-talk we are engaging in and it can be positive or negative as illustrated above.  Is your thought beneficial (positive) or harmful (negative).  Are you aware that the type of self-talk you engage in impacts your anxiety/stress level, mood, and self-esteem? 

The first step is to assess what type of self-talker you are.  Journaling can be a wonderful tool.  You can write down your negative thoughts throughout the day or write up a summary at the end of the day of all your experiences.  When you notice that you were stressed or upset in some way stop and analyze the situation.  Ask yourself what was happening and what was I feeling.  Lastly, trace this back to the thoughts you were thinking at the time.  For example, you are stuck in a traffic jam on the way home from work.  What did you feel?  Frustration, anger, anxiety, or perhaps calm, yes calm!  Track back and figure out what your were thinking as you sat in the traffic jam "crap... now dinner's gonna be late... this just tops off this awful day I've had" or "hmmm.... looks like I will be late getting home but I'll order a pizza and have a picnic with the kids instead of cooking... oh that will be fun."  Do you see the difference?  Believe it or not, it is not what's happening to or around us, but our perception of what's happening and you choose the perception!

Here's an exercise to try in your journal:
Negative Thoughts:
More reasonable, positive thoughts:

Situation:  I weighed myself
Negative thought:  Wow, I haven't lost any weight, I am such a fat cow!
Feelings:  sad, anger, frustrated
More reasonable, positive thought:  Okay, I haven't gained any weight and I am going to the gym so I am working on it.
Feelings:  calm, motivated

Do you see how your interpretation of the situation will impact your thoughts and thus your feelings and thus your self-esteem?  I believe that many people simply do not understand how their self-talk impacts them.  Would you call your best friend a "fat cow?"  Of course not, so why would you call yourself one?

So, are you positive or negative thinker?  If you're a positive thinker congratulations!  You may leave now, ha! For those of you that fall into the negative thinking category here are a few strategies to aid in changing that behavior:
  • Thought-Stopping - when you notice you are engaging in negative thought literally visualize  a big, red stop sign and tell yourself "stop!"  Next, insert a more positive thought.  If you can't readily come up with one, think of something such as a funny joke you heard, your child, or anything that automatically produces a positive feeling.  This takes practice so don't give up after a try or two.  Keep at it!
  • Change self-limiting statements!  For example don't say "I can't do this" replace that thought with "How can I do this."
  • Journal, journal, journal!  Everyday take some time and process your day and figure out where negative thinking interfered using the exercise above.  If you practice this, eventually you will do this in your head as it is happening or shortly thereafter.
  • Ask friends and family to point out when you are expressing negative statements so you can change the pattern immediately.
  • Practice, practice, practice!  Did I mention you should practice all of the above?  Remember that any pattern of behavior that we have from eating, to smoking, to self-talk takes time and consistency to change.  Don't give up!
If you find that you are struggling with this please see a therapist.  They can help guide you in changing negative patterns.  And, the good news is, if you're consistent, this pattern can change fairly quickly!
For further reference, here's a book that I have read and absolutely love:  Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem - it is an easy read and walks you through, step-by-step, in changing your pattern of thought.

I truly hope you find this helpful and I look forward to your comments!

Have a wonderful week!



Chatty Crone said...

Oh my goodness - you and I think a lot alike. I write a lot about self esteem - and self talk. It is a must to survive this life. It's rough out there and when we are rough on ourselves - we carry a heavy burden.

Thank you for going to all the trouble and posting that - I am going to buy that book!

Great blog.


Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Good Morning Jacalyn Sweetie...
What a beautiful share this is. I have so enjoyed it. You never know who you may be reaching out to.

I have to say I am a little of both. Some parts positive, some parts negative. The positive evens out the scale when I do have a negative day.

I love the journal idea. Great share sweet friend.

Have a gorgeous Sunday. Many hugs and much love, Sherry

Anonymous said...

I was waiting for Part II and now i know (but i guess i already did) that i'm so full of negative thoughts!!!

i'm going to read the book you suggested and pay attention to my thoughts...thank you for writing about this...

it woke me up to listening to my own conversations with myself...


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Jacalyn, this is great! I loved reading this. For the most part, I think my self talk is pretty positive, but I do have my moments. Thanks for sharing this, Jaclyn.


Sheila :-)

Chatty Crone said...

I have an award for you on my blog. sandie

The Polka Dot Closet said...

I have pretty good self esteem, but I am guilty of negative traffic thoughts!! Your right, I usually am thinking of other things, negative or rushed! Thanks for a great post!


Carolee Crafts said...

I love this post, thank you so much for last week as well, it has certainly made me stop and think what I am thinking and how to change.

Have a good week


Lynn Stevens said...

Some really great advice here! I'm guilty from time to time of being way too self critical, I need to learn to lighten up I guess! TFS

Miss Magpie said...

I've enjoyed reading your post, and you have a beautiful blog. Thank you for sharing your insights with others.

Icy BC said...

These are all wonderful idea! I have this book, and read it on occasion..

Betzie said...

So true and a great post! A good reminder for me...thanks!
Lately I've felt like I'd prefer to be 20 years younger, let alone 20 pounds thinner! Let alone...have my old eyesight back...let alone have my parents be healthier...and so on and so on...LOL

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