My therapist recently told me (which is quite possibly the most ‘Millennal’ way to begin a sentence) that to stop the negative thoughts and feelings being fed to me by my subconscious, I needed to change the way I talk to myself. More than one friend has told me that I’m hard on myself, and I know I tend to be critical, especially of my own work.
In one of our sessions, I was given an exercise: stand in front of a mirror, look myself in the eye, and read a list of statements that begin with “I love myself because…” twice a day. So I’m trying it out and doing as prescribed with a list I’d come up with:
I love myself because I can find the humor in any situation.
I love myself because I’m thoughtful.
I love myself because I love people.
I love myself because I have a way with words.
Though It’s only been a few weeks of doing this, it’s forced me to see my thoughts more objectively and catch negative automatic thoughts when they crop up. Better self-talk means rewriting the narrative we create within ourselves, about ourselves: when we’re aware of the words we use to speak to ourselves, we rewire old habits of criticism and other self-defeating patterns to positive thoughts and affirmations.
Mental health and self-care are especially important for entrepreneurs and small business owners: the stresses are real, and only recently has the conversation opened up about the benefits of vulnerability at work and self-talk as a performance optimization technique. It’s easy to feel pressure to appear a certain way and portray a certain image online, especially when you’re the face of a business. Positive self-talk is hard when you’re playing the comparison game, but the antidote to negative self-talk is simple: remembering to feel grateful.
Gratitude champion Brené Brown can always be counted on for vulnerability and self-love realness, but I especially love when high-profile businesspeople like Gary Vaynerchuk share their insecurities: when we integrate the importance of vulnerability and self-efficacy into the business world, big shifts happen in how we approach our work—and our self-worth.
When I left the corporate world, I vowed that I would never again sacrifice my health and well-being for a job, full stop. As an empath, it’s hard to not become emotionally invested in work, which is what burned me out in corporate environments. Now that I work for myself, positive self-talk is crucial not just for me personally, but for my business as well.
Change starts with thoughts and words, which become our actions: thus, our thoughts become our reality. Reciting the reasons I love myself into a mirror feels super awkward, but it’s a way to replace negative with positive, substituting criticism with encouragement. I need to be the best I can be to reach my goals, and that involves treating myself like I would a client or a close friend.
And that starts with me.
(The image for this post is from a session with Jessica Arroyo at Hippie Hollow back in February. This was by far the most vulnerable I’ve ever felt—and the results of the session are photos I’ll treasure forever.)