Changing Your Inner Narrative

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We often  hear the phrase “you are your own worst enemy.” But what does that really mean?

It means that many times we sabotage ourselves from accomplishing our personal goals and from feeling good about ourselves. We can thank our negative inner voices for the  insecurities and anxieties we experience. A negative inner voice can be explained as those you have which tell you you’re unattractive, you can’t do something, or that you are not worthy of success. There are a number of reasons for why our thoughts may turn negative. These can include: we are predisposed to anxiety or depression, negative people in our lives have drilled these thoughts into our heads, it has become habitual for us to think and believe these negative thoughts, or the negative past experiences we have encountered make us believe more will occur.

Lucky for us,change is possible. It is certainly not easy, especially if negativity has been a  part of our inner dialogue for a long time, but nevertheless it can be done. It takes time, patience, effort, and genuine willingness to change. It will also take both external and internal change. External change refers to what you physically do and can also refer to altering the physical locations you go to. Internal change refers to developing the habit of identifying negative thoughts as soon as they begin and countering them with positive reminders of your accomplishments and strengths as well as redirecting your thoughts to focus on more productive, good things in life.

External change to promote positive self-talk can be done in a number of ways. It can mean removing yourself from stressful situations. This can refer to a job or a class that feels taxing on us. When we are not in the position to quit the job that leaves us in a bad mood or the class that we are struggling in, we can still make physical changes. At the job, if there are certain responsibilities that you are having a hard time with or specific rooms where the customers or coworkers seem daunting, you can ask a supervisor to be moved to another room location or work out a different time schedule.

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In class, if you feel you are struggling with the material or feeling distracted, you can physically move where you sit--be that away from noisy, distracting people or towards the back and near the aisle if you fear being judged for not understanding class material. External changes can also mean modifying your social circles. You do not need to resort to completely cutting off friends and families from your life, but perhaps consider limiting the amount of time you spend with the individuals who leave you feeling negative. Especially individuals who verbally abuse or tease or who actively talk down about themselves, as negative self-talk can be contagious. It is important to surround yourself with people and environments which inspire, motivate, and encourage you to succeed.

Internal changes can become easier when external changes are made. By sitting in a quiet environment, as opposed to noisy, hectic location, you may find it easier to begin the process of rewiring how you internally regard yourself. Additionally, because habits are difficult to break, by changing your physical patterns you may find it easier to change your mental thought patterns. You can achieve internal changes by expanding your perspective through reading books which provide suggestions, unique ways to problem-solve, and words which seek to inspire new thoughts.

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Steadying your mind and focusing on being in the present, and clearing your thoughts and worries about the future or past mistakes, can greatly benefit your subconscious. It is also important to recognize when negative thoughts appear or when you are narrating your life negatively. Instead of thinking to yourself, “my life is so hard because...,” “I’ll never be able to overcome this,” or “these kinds of things always happen to me,” I challenge you to focus on the positive. To remind yourself of the good people who are in life your life and about the activities and environments that give you happiness.

The world is what you perceive it to be. It is important to remain realistic, but it is also important to remember that you are the one who has the power to decide what your mind focuses on; the negativity or the positivity.