negative self talk woman looking down

Ask yourself this question when you catch negative self talk

Negative self talk is like quicksand.

You sink deeper and deeper into it without realizing it. But if you do realize you’re ankle deep in the damaging sludge, that’s often when you sink down faster.

Because, let’s be honest for a minute, nothing makes you feel like more of a fraud than repeating positive mantras in the mirror when you don’t particularly like yourself.

And, no, you don’t have to buy the lifestyle guru bullshit. Repeating mantras endlessly or taping them onto the fridge won’t help everyone. You don’t have to just keep trying to be positive to break the cycle of putting yourself down and reclaim your self esteem.

All you need is one little question.

Negative self talk and realism

If you read the site, you’ve probably noticed I’m not sunshine and rainbows.

Shit happens. To everyone. And sometimes life sucks. So to tell you anything else, I firmly believe, is irresponsible.

And the same goes for that toxic habit most of us have: negative self talk.

I’m not trying to be bleak when I tell you that positive thinking is not going to change how you put yourself down. It’s not going to make you like yourself.

There’s no mantra that will break the spell. No quote that will make you snap out of it.

Not even if you repeat it to yourself day in and day out for years on end. And anyone that tells you otherwise is ignoring a simple but powerful truth.

We live in a society designed to make you dislike yourself.

Do you accomplish more by putting yourself down? Does your hair magically inflate with volume when you buy a different shampoo because you felt badly about yourself? Fuck no.

You’re constantly bombarded by ads featuring women prettier than you. (Prettier than they themselves truly are, in fact, thanks to Photoshop.) You read articles about women more successful than you. You watch people on TV simply because they’re richer and skinnier than you.

Even those companies trying to sell you an empowering message are still putting you down. (Read this amazing piece by Natalia Borecka of Lone Wolf Magazine for a full explainer.)

You’re told that you could be strong, empowered, successful, and even rich — as long as you look the part. Translation: what you are right not is not enough to achieve these things. And how you fix that is through their products.

And because it’s everywhere, it’s pretty much impossible not to internalize it.

If we’re being realistic, it’s probably unlikely you’ll ever tune it out completely. The best we can do is train the ability to counter the toxic messages, to question our negative self talk.

negative self talk woman standing in wheat field
You don’t need their products to have self confidence. A new shampoo, some eyebrow filler, and a meal plan won’t do anything about convincing you to like yourself.

Putting yourself down? Counter the negative self talk with this question

It really doesn’t matter what the negative self talk is about. Maybe you’re putting yourself down because you don’t think you’re thin enough. Or you believe your hair isn’t thick enough. Or your eyebrows are thin and the complete opposite of the entire Cara Delevingne brow trend. But all of these things can generally be countered with this simple question: Who benefits from me feeling this way?

The answer is generally a company.

Glossier and Maybelline and L’Oreal benefit from your brow self criticism. And Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and Spanx and that horrible appetite suppressant lollipop company benefit when you tell yourself you’re not thin enough.

But even if you can’t think of a specific company, you’ve seen and read enough to know that the weight loss industry benefits greatly from your negative self talk. That’s the reason why this industry raked in an estimated $68.2 billion in 2017.

And even though we’re catching on, we still buy in. The industry was expected to grow 3.2% in 2018 to reach an approximate $70.3 billion.

Who benefits from you feeling behind in your career? LinkedIn Learning and for-profit educational institutions. Career coaches. And, yes, bloggers who talk about careers who monetize their websites.

I’m not trying to be bleak when I tell you that positive thinking is not going to change how you put yourself down. It’s not going to make you like yourself.

But here’s the really important part. Even if you cannot think of anyone or any company that benefits when you’re putting yourself down, ask yourself if you benefit.

Do you accomplish more by putting yourself down? Does your hair magically inflate with volume when you buy a different shampoo because you felt badly about yourself? Fuck no. And even if you do find the unicorn shampoo (please share), it likely does absolutely goose egg for your confidence.

So, who benefits from you feeling this way? Not you. And that’s what matters.

But you can break free. Ask the question and realize the negative self talk is doing nothing to enhance your life, outside or inside. Then ditch it. It doesn’t serve you.

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