Written by: Julie Thomas, Director of Victim Services and Training

I often encounter people in the course of my work who tell me “I am my own worst enemy”. It is so easy for us to believe the worst about ourselves, to put ourselves down, to litter our days’ thoughts with negative self-talk.  Somewhere in our past we’ve been delivered the message that to say positive, uplifting things about ourselves is to be stuck up, arrogant, self-involved, and egotistical. Of course there is a balance when it comes to being self-centered.  I would like to take back that phrase and remove the negativity associated with it.  When we hear ‘self-centered’ we think of someone vain or arrogant, who thinks they are better than everyone else.  I would like to use the phrase to mean that someone is balanced in his or her life, knows their place in the world, what their passionate work should be and is able to stay in the here-and-now to live life to the fullest.

I think the actual dynamic that is taking place when we put ourselves down is threefold.  First, we can make a negative statement with the hope ‘it won’t get worse than this’, second, if we say it out loud, someone will disagree, say something positive about us to contradict the negative thing we said, and third, we can stay comfortable in self-doubt and keep ourselves from stepping out of our comfort zone.  What are some negative self-talk statements you make?  Take some time to write down the negative things you say to yourself and then contradict them with positive statements.  Work on switching the negatives to the positives!  It will take time and consistency for it to become a habit but if you stick with it, you will change those negative messages into positive, self-affirming ones.