A best friend comes to you with some bad news. Up until this point, she’s been working her butt off getting her resume into gear and preparing for interviews. She’s given up hours of her time and you have, like the good friend you are, supported her every step of the way. But despite your best efforts, it wasn’t enough. She didn’t get it and now, it’s back to the drawing board. For her, this means doors are closed, ice-cream containers are open and it’s back to two-minute noodles for lunch and dinner.
What do you say? Like the good friend you are, I’m pretty sure your responses will go something like this:
a) I think you’re being re-directed to something better.
b) They only had instant coffee anyway, ew!
c) They missed out… You’re so talented, you just haven’t found the right fit yet
d) Take this as a learning experience. Whats next?
I know you would do and say these things because that’s what a good friend does. If at this stage you have identified yourself as someone who would not do or say any of these things then I suggest you cease reading this post immediately and redirect yourself to the (http://tinybuddha.com/blog/25-ways-to-be-a-true-friend/)
But let’s flip it.
How would you talk to yourself if you found yourself in the same position? I’m guessing the self-talk might be a little different? Maybe something more like this:
a) I didn't expect to get in anyway.
b) I cant do all that work again.
c) I’m not smart enough.
d) Maybe I’m just not cut out for this.
I think you might know where I’m going with this? If you don’t react to failure in this way then kudos to you! But the sad fact is that most of us do and worse still, we aren’t even aware that we treat ourselves this way.
Self loathing after a negative experience is common. It’s also a well ingrained habit and a pretty tough one to break. So, you want the good news? Awareness is the first key step. And you’ve done this already. You now know that the way you speak to yourself is probably at odds with the way you would generally speak to others.
Here’s a few pointers to help you nip that negative nance’ in the bud.
First of all, start looking at failures and mistakes as a blessing. You have learnt a valuable lesson that has redirected you to somewhere important.
Think about it, that negative experience has taught you something, hindsight is a beautiful thing. You may have learnt to avoid something or try out a new strategy.
It may be that you’re working through a process of elimination until you reach your ultimate goal. Identify what the lesson is and use it to your advantage.
The spiral of negative thought, where we repeat the same pessimistic dialogue over and over and replay all kinds of ‘what if’ scenarios in our minds can take control very quickly.
Often, we don’t even realise that we’re even doing it or how long we’ve been down the rabbit hole; it just feels so natural to ponder thoughts that make us nervous and upset, doesn’t it? We get a kick out of mentally torturing ourselves because we may think we deserve it.
The old adage ‘you think therefore you are’ is a sentiment that should have us all reflecting on the way we speak to ourselves given that our inner dialogue can alter our thoughts, actions and the perception of the world around us.
It’s no easy feat putting an end to the tirade of vitriol your brain can dish out but what you can do is bring a little self-awareness to the table.
When you are aware of your thoughts you are able to separate yourself from them and create space for reflection. You are able to fight back against the warped version of reality that you have just created and offer some perspective as the measured and logical person you are.
Annnd you’re back!
When you find yourself in a shitty situation that gets you down, offer yourself the same advice you would give to one of your dearest friends. It’s that simple.
Take a minute to practice this now. Let’s say something at work didn’t quite go your way or a co-worker pissed you off, or you’re trying to hold it together in front of your colleagues after a fresh break-up (insert various scenarios here). The moment has well and truly passed, but you’re drawn back to thinking about and decoding these memories again and again.
Instead of what you would normally do, talk yourself through it, just like you would a friend. What advice would you offer? I bet it’s something much more powerful, meaningful and worthwhile.
It’s a little tricky to begin with, initially, your mind might want to drag you back elsewhere but with a little practice and persistence, you’ll start looking for solutions instead of defeating and unproductive self-talk. Over time this means much more confidence and better decision making.
Basically, you need to train yourself to be your own best mate. That means backing yourself and being supportive. That doesn’t mean you put on your rose coloured glasses, it means that you cut yourself some slack and allow room for perspective and reflection.
If you spoke to others as you speak to yourself, what might your friendship circle look like? The relationship we have with ourselves is so important and, left unexamined, may go on to affect how we interact with other people.
When the floodgates of negative thought burst open, ask yourself: would I say this to so and so? Or better yet: if this happened to so and so, what advice would I give them?
So be aware and be kind to yourself. It will take a little patience and persistence on your behalf but it will give you so much more power and control over your life—and, if all else fails, at least you can always count on your bestie for some support and sound advice.