In general, if and when someone says something to you that brings into question some element of your character, the chances are you’d jump to your own defence and maybe even start to list a number of things that disputed what they said. You’d find some proof that you are not all that bad and even if you take some of it on board, you’d jump to your own defence in some manner, wouldn’t you?
In contrast, it seems that when we tell ourselves we are not good at something, we believe it. We take our own word for it… So to speak. Why is it that we rarely start an argument with ourselves?
Yes, yes, I hear you wanting to argue with that thought, wanting to tell me of all the times you had an angel on one shoulder suggesting the virtuous path and a devil on the other shoulder leading you astray… But that is not a disupte, is it? It is just facets of ourselves attempting to steer us in that direction….
We rarely argue with our own thoughts. We just listen and nod. We all know that the little voice in our heads can sometimes be hurtful, pessimistic, and down-right mean, and we just sit back and take it… Would you take it from anybody else?
Believing what it says creates all kinds of self-doubt and related issues, which in turn affect most other things we do in life. It seems that sometimes we are not even aware of our negative beliefs. We are so used to the chatter going on, we don’t even notice. We simply experience the effects including anxiety, anger, and depression, and feelings of discouragement and hopelessness, to name a few… What a bleak picture I am painting, eh?
So fight back!
The next time you become aware of “negative talk” inside your head that doesn’t seem fair, roll up your sleeves, tell those thoughts you want to take this outside, get someone to hold your jacket and get ready to rumble… “Yeah,. you want some?” and “I’ll take you all on, one at a time or altogether, makes no difference to me” and into the fray you go…
Firstly, identify the negative thought. Listen to your inner dialogue and write down what it is saying. It could be a simple one-liner. Some examples are: “I am never going to achieve my ideal weight;” “I am unattractive and no one wants to go out with me;” and “I will never earn that amount of money.”
Secondly, give evidence to prove this thought is true. Let’s take the first negative thought from above: “I am never going to achieve my ideal weight.” Evidence could include: I am going to the gym, but my workouts don’t seem to get any easier. I still find it hard to run a mile on the treadmill. I am sore after lifting weights. Put all the evidence down on paper.
Thirdly, list the ramifications if this thought is true. If the statement “I am never going to achieve my ideal weight” is true, that means I am always going to be out of breath when I get on the treadmill. Climbing stairs at the office will continue to be exhausting for the rest of my life. I can never improve my level of physical fitness no matter how hard I workout at the gym. I am such a loser because I just can’t seem to stick to my workout plan or even show up at the gym twice a week.
Next up then… “FIGHT”
Argue with yourself. Dispute the thought. Write down a list of reasons why this is not true. For instance, other people who go to the gym regularly do get in better shape. I was once in better shape when I exercised three times a week. Just by going to the gym once a week, I can already feel a difference climbing the stairs at work, even though I still get tired. That means I am making some progress and improving my level of fitness.
Fifth step is to ask yourself if you want to believe that thought anymore. What value does it hold in your life? What do you get out of believing that thought? What could you achieve in life if you didn’t believe that thought? “I am never going to achieve my ideal weight” does not help motivate anyone to workout. The thought provides no positive value to your life. Choosing not to believe it opens up the possibility that you could actually get in shape.
Arguing with ourselves can be a great tool to help us change the way we see the world. Once we knock down these negative, limiting thoughts, we get out of our own way and start seeing that achieving anything really is possible.
Get an attitude with those thoughts, take them outside and kick their arses! 🙂