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Have you ever had this nagging voice telling you that you are not good enough? Take a moment to consider it. Those thoughts swarm your mind perhaps because you are fundamentally unsatisfied with yourself. This may be the result of a previous experience you have had in the past, where a person, situation, or circumstance caused you to feel less than.
All it takes is one of these events for this feeling of inferiority to become solidified in your mind, influencing subsequent thoughts. This negative cycle can leave an everlasting impact on your life, preventing you from becoming happy. These cognitions (thoughts) accumulate until there is little to no positivity amongst the doubt. So you begin to wonder, how can you be confident when you struggle to accept your true worth?
In my book entitled The Monologue of Fear, I reveal my personal strategies for overcoming feelings of doubt and maladaptive patterns of thinking. Drawing from my Seven Day Plan to Positivity, I will briefly explain the process by which true self-transformation can be possible. If you wish to see the daily breakdown, you can refer to the book itself, which is available on Amazon.com and carlaspsychblog.com.
Throughout the week of work, I demonstrate how to neutralize internalized thoughts. By making small modifications in the way you speak to yourself, it becomes possible to improve your self-perception.
As suggested in my book, negative thoughts can contaminate your mind. In order to work to remove them, you must identify the thoughts that are problematic. This includes statements such as “I will never be good enough because…” Or “I am always inferior compared to everyone else.” Statements that include always or never with a reinforcer such as because or compared to become counterproductive when trying to acquire motivation or courage.
In these instances, these words accumulate the power to destroy confidence and optimism. In fact, these phrases become detrimental to your future. Instead of finding reasons why you can accomplish a goal, you look to provide excuses why you can’t. Then, you find yourself taking several steps backwards instead of making progress.
So how can this be turned around?
Recognize the Power of Negative Language.
The most important part of this journey is acknowledging the power of words. They only have as much impact as you allow them. When thoughts already have a negative connotation, it requires an aggressive effort to reverse. To confront these patterns of thinking, these words can be identified using just a pen and paper.
In my case, I dedicated a small journal to this exercise. It is most helpful when you create a list starting on one side of the paper. The other side should be reserved for rewriting preexisting negative statements. This allows you to see the before and after transformation as it happens.
Identify Generalizations & Irrational Language.
It is also necessary to identify all the terms that create unrealistic generalizations. This includes the words referenced above such as always and never, along with all terminology that reinforces blanket assumptions. In a depressive mindset, the words we use to describe ourselves misrepresent our capabilities. This is what generally constitutes irrational thinking. It is that voice in your mind that encourages insecurities.
Neutralize Your Negative Thoughts
If you find yourself focusing on all the skills, abilities, or attributes that you lack, you are feeding into the irrational thoughts. For many individuals, it is a struggle to become positive overnight. As someone who has been able to surpass this, I recommend working on being neutral before working on being positive. That prevents you from failing because you are making small changes rather than those that are difficult to maintain.
In order to have neutral cognitions, you must remove all of the generalizations and irrational reasoning. This includes the thoughts where you tell yourself that you're incapable.
Ex. Instead of saying, “I’ll never be smart, pretty, or successful because I’m just not good enough!” You can modify this to include room for acknowledgement of potential. For instance, you could say, “I may not be perfect or successful, but I am capable.”
Ex. For me this next phrase was one that was all too common for me. I would say to myself, “I will remain a failure since bad things always happen to me.” When I learned to neutralize my self-talk, I changed this to, “I won’t always be a failure, even though bad things do happen to me frequently.” In this second statement, I learned to be free from self-deprecating generalizations because they did not accurately represent me.
As you move forward with your own journey of healing, I suggest that you begin to take the time to recognize how detrimental negative thought patterns can be. Once you begin the work, you can gradually introduce more positive language into your cognitions. I recommend finding the middle ground first since depression is not easy to come out of. It takes time, patience, and much work to recover from. But I know you can do it, as long as you keep trying to make a genuine effort.
Self-Empowerment & Freedom
After completing this hard work, remember to embrace your newfound freedom from self-discouragement. You have successfully destroyed the power that words have over you. They no longer have the capacity to make you feel less than. Simply by removing the words that perpetuate irrational thinking, you have uncovered a new realm of possibilities, where you can be comfortable in your own skin.
If you are struggling to navigate these exercises, please don't hesitate to contact me via the community forum or personally message me at carlaspsychblog.com. I can provide you with additional resources to jumpstart your healing.