On Goals, Vulnerability, and Self-Talk

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.)

Liz Feezor