GUEST POST BY MEREDITH WOOLLEY
Do you ever find yourself feeling or thinking that you are not good enough or that you don’t ‘measure up?’ Has this theme been constantly showing up in your internal conversations?
You are not alone. I see women who tell me that they are experiencing this phenomenon on a daily basis.
How do we make sense of the fact that so many women feel this way? We were not born with these self-defeating thoughts, but somewhere along the way we learned to devalue our strengths and downplay our successes. Innately, people want to be happy, but sometimes we get taken off of our preferred path.
Luckily, there is a way to get back on that path. Sound daunting? Let me explain further.
First and foremost, look back in your memory bank for a recent example of your negative self-talk. Did you pick up on anything that your body was feeling when you were engrossed (consciously or subconsciously) in this particular kind of dialogue? Our bodies may be reacting to this negativity by increasing our heart rate, creating a shortness of breath or producing feelings of anxiety or fear. If you are more aware of what your body is telling you, you can learn how to break the pattern if it happens again.
When your next moment negative self-talk comes up, ask yourself what your body is telling you. I often ask my clients to think about what the location of their stress would say if it could speak to them.
Often, problems like to visit people when they are wrapped up in regrets about the past and/or worries about the future. Practicing mindfulness exercises will help to keep you in the present, where your past and future problems hold less power. When we are more mindful, we are more present and in touch with our surroundings, which allows us to reconnect with our body and break free from unhelpful thoughts and feelings. This enables us to find that headspace where we can use the tools and techniques we know to become more grounded, less stressed and improve our overall quality of life.
Here are 5 simple steps that will help you become your own greatest advocate:
Question yourself. It can be challenging to give ourselves direction and advice when we are immersed in negative thought pattern. Below are some questions that you can ask yourself to bring yourself to a better place!
- What advice would you give to a friend who is thinking the same thoughts that you are? Would you follow the same advice that you gave to them? If not, then ask yourself why not? Could there be a double standard happening?
- Whatever negative comments you hear in your mind, ask yourself where they come from. Are they yours or another persons? Sometimes our internalized beliefs have been there for so long that we have not even thought to check in to see if we believe what they are actually telling us anymore!
- Another aspect to reflect on is what gender or age the voice you hear is. Perhaps you’re stuck in a belief that you held when you were eight years old, or one that someone else tried to convince you of. You are within your rights to let go of these beliefs if they are not serving you well. What have you got to lose by resetting your beliefs?
- Now that we have looked at who has created these negative thoughts, ask yourself if these comments are raising you up or bringing you down? What is the preferred way that you want to speak to yourself, and how would it feel to hear yourself speak this way?
- Talk back to this voice to become your own biggest advocate! What would happen for you if you were your greatest supporter? Every time I ask myself this question, (and yes even Counsellor’s have moments when personal negative beliefs surface) I feel a warmth rising up from inside and it feels really, really good.
When you think about being your own biggest advocate, do you also feel pure internal love and support coming straight from within yourself? I invite you to conduct your own experiment after reading this by wrapping yourself up in that feeling more often by engaging in more supportive self-talk. You deserve it.
About Meredith Woolley
Meredith Woolley, M.C. CCC is a Canadian Certified Counsellor in Vancouver, BC with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA #7215) who has worked in the mental health field for the last six years. Her specialization is in women’s counselling, helping women with anxiety, depression, life transitions, stress, substance misuse issues, disordered eating, grief and loss, and chronic pain. Walking alongside her clients as they make changes in their lives continues to re-enforce her belief that through hard work attaining happiness is always possible, as this is something that she has experienced first hand. Check out her website at www.trailheadcounselling.com.