Self-talk is the words and conversations we have with ourselves throughout our day (and especially on wakeful nights!) These can be positive, like ‘I’m not looking too bad today’ or ‘I did that better than expected’. Or they can be negative like ‘no one will ever love me because I’m not worth it’. How we communicate with ourselves is very important – if we criticise and put ourselves down it harms us. If we use kind self-talk to encourage ourselves we build ourselves up and become healthy in mind and spirit.
Negative self-talk is just that – negative, but it is something that nearly all of us do at some time or another. Sometimes we are just having a bad day, tired, run down and under pressure. On these days it is easy to fall into a trap of negative self-talk. For other people they are in a pattern of behaviour that almost amounts to self-abuse. Often these people are very kind and caring – good people, and yet they speak to themselves in ways they would never speak to others because it would be too hurtful.
These negative conversations with ourselves undermine the self and get in the way of achieving the things we want and need. An example is staying with someone who doesn’t treat you well because you have kept telling yourself that no one else will love you, or you don’t deserve better, or that the kind of relationship you want is unrealistic and never going to happen.
It is nearly always our worst fears that are running the show when we put ourselves down. It is certainly not what your friends or anyone who loves you would think. I have lost count of how many amazing, strong and caring women I have done readings for who talk themselves down and are honestly their own worst enemy. Sometimes when they confess how they feel about themselves it is shocking how worthless they think they are – especially when they, and their lives are filled with courage, resilience and love.
The Swords suit of cards in the Tarot rule all communication (like self-talk) and the mind. Constructively, the mind, like a sword, dissects and analyses, making the issue clearer: at its worst the person keeps on cutting and slicing with their mind until there is just a mushy, confusing mess. Our thoughts are like this, it is useful to take stock and consider your life, but then stop before it becomes counter-productive and you tear yourself down.
It is good to check your self-talk to see if your relationship with yourself is healthy or abusive. Often our relationship with ourselves is coloured by the messages we have received growing up or in romantic relationships.
While most parents and partners are kind and loving, some can be very cruel and say things which really wound a child’s or lover’s self-worth and view of themselves. It can be a long healing process to undo that damage, and one of the last places it sticks is in the words we use on ourselves. Make sure that you are not repeating a partner or parents’ hurtful, negative words to yourself.
Some people find it very difficult to accept compliments – even if they are deserved. They will brush it off, get embarrassed and say it doesn’t really count or mean anything. If this is you, listen to what the people are saying. They don’t have to pay you a compliment or show gratitude – obviously there is some truth in it!
Turning it around and developing positive self-talk is a matter of practice and consciousness. When you find your mind running down the same old path of beating yourself up – stop and remind yourself that what you are doing is negative and harmful and that you should be treating yourself better. Instead, think of something you have done well or achieved and focus on that.
Another useful thing is to write a list of all your positives and the things you have accomplished – it doesn’t matter how big or small. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting, you can keep coming back to it. Also put down any positive comments that have been said to you. Even if you find it hard to believe, write it down! Then the next time you are beating yourself up with criticism, get out your list and read it to at least counterbalance the negative thoughts with some positive reality. I would also recommend that you read your list every day and add to it, just to remind you of the good points.