Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, in management or climbing up the corporate ladder, by being negative, your worst enemy becomes yourself. Yes, you might have some “enemies” in your life as well, like the rude saleswoman who told you that dress you were trying on looked too young for you. However, it's up to you to deal with those snide comments by not playing them over and over in your head.
Sadly, most people say worse things about themselves, to themselves, than they would ever say about a friend or even a stranger. It's good to pay attention to your interior dialogue so you know when you're feeling negatively, then you can take the steps to fix it. The good news is that you’re in total control of changing how you talk to yourself. Here are some of the most vicious things we do to ourselves, why we do it, and how to stop:
1. Convincing yourself you are worse than you are.
Whether it’s fat, stupid, lazy or any other negative word, it's best to just avoid that line of thinking. First of all, those words turn what should be a verb into a noun. A person, by nature, cannot be fat. Using the “I am” to precursor any negative self-talk makes it that much worse, it makes a person own it, and it reinforces it. Try balancing it with “I feel” and “but” such as “I feel like I’m carrying more weight than is healthy, but I’m also strong.” Then make a plan of action to change if necessary.
2. Deciding you can't do something before you even try.
There are certainly things most people probably can’t do, like become Miss America if they're in their 30s, married and have three kids (they have rules, after all). However, for the most part “I can’t” is really a way of saying “This is hard” or “I feel overwhelmed.” While having a bucket list is fantastic for some, there are many reasons that it’s not a good idea. If you think you can’t do something, try asking yourself first if you really want to do it.
3. Thinking everyone has a life better than you.
Whether it’s getting their PhD, getting married, having kids, traveling or getting promotions, success of others doesn’t take away from your achievements. Everyone has highs and lows. Everyone desires different things and puts various values on different “achievements.” There’s guaranteed to be someone who’s envious of your life (and probably quite a few people). Avoid comparing your life to others and focus on the value of your own journey.
Related: The Bright Side of Negative Thinking
4. Believing you don't have time to reach your goals.
Everyone gets just as many hours in the day as Beyonce. In fact, time is the one equalizer: Everyone has the same amount in a day, and nobody knows when their days will run out. As such, it’s not an excuse not to do what you want to do (but it’s often used as an excuse to not do what you don’t want to do). While Life Hacker gives tips on making it feel like you have more time, the reality is that it’s still the same time, just better spent.
5. Making impossible bargains with yourself.
There are all kinds of bargains and deals we make with ourselves. Sometimes they make sense. For example, “When I save six months’ worth of income by August of this year, I’ll file the license for by business.” That’s smart planning with a feasible goal and end date in mind. However, something like “When I lose 50 pounds, I’ll find true love” is your mantra, it’s time to re-think your goals, what’s important, and your dreams.
How much of your self-talk is helping you, and how much is getting in your own way? Listen closely, and you’ll be surprised by how much sabotage may be happening.