I would like to share a short story about a fictional person named Sally. One day, Sally has a rough day and hits an emotional roadblock. It sparked a conversation with a friend about some barriers with her boss. A slew of negative thoughts crept in whispering, “You are lazy. You are going to fail at this. You need to be managed like a child”. She notices these thoughts and immediately voiced them aloud to her friend, who of course, refuted everything. She wanted to believe his encouragement and kindness, but her own words had already become a stronghold. Discouragement and a deep sadness flooded in.
The next morning, Sally woke to the heaviness of apathy and disappointment. The words continued to be difficult to shake off. She knew her internal dialogue was not only unfair and unkind but also counterproductive to where she needed to be. Throughout the rest of the day, Sally was mindful of the pain, and reframed her thoughts to be gentle and compassionate: “You’re feeling pretty disappointed right now about not reaching some of your goals. You wish you had more follow through. It’s okay that you’ve been feeling stuck.” Something shifted the moment she tapped into some self-compassion. By the end of the day, the heaviness was gone and a newfound determination kicked in.
. . .
Our inner dialogue reflects our deepest vulnerability. It holds so much power over how we view and treat ourselves, and how we are able to engage with the world. In my work as a therapist, it’s common for me to hear statements such as “I’m so stupid”, “I’m useless”, “I am the biggest failure in the world”, “I don’t deserve anything good to happen to me”.
These words are deeply painful and defeating. We would never say these statements to anyone we care about, even to strangers, but allow this to be a familiar repertoire of self-talk. What this reveals is that we are often harsher and more cruel to ourselves than we are to anyone else. Some view this negative self-talk as a motivator to improve or change, whereas others become attuned to the vicious internal cycle that deepens symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Don’t let self doubt create anxiety, depression, fear, and uncertainty. Talk to a professional counselor to learn how to get past defeating thoughts and feelings.