Toxic Self-Talk and How To Stop It
Why are we so hard on ourselves? Is it because when we were growing up we were criticised or judged and then we’ve taken those criticisms and judgments with us into adulthood and still think those things about ourselves. Is it because we think that somehow some way if we are mean and nasty to and about ourselves that one day we’ll just emerge as these perfect amazing incredible human beings.
Why Are We So Mean To Ourselves
There’s lots of reasons why so many of us are so mean to ourselves, are so hard on ourselves and I don’t know what your reason is but what I do know is that most of us could stand to be a lot kinder, a lot more compassionate, a lot more understanding and have more grace for ourselves.
And I’m going to talk today about specifically how to do that because it’s one thing to say be kinder to yourself it’s another thing to know what that actually looks like. So we’re going to talk about that here if you are new to me and this is the first time we’re connecting my name is Rachel Hall, The Cheeky Dentist, I help dentists to build systems that make fortunes and let then have fun so they can have a profitable dental practice and live life to the max.
Mindset, Toxic Talk and Dentistry
As part of my coaching I work a lot with my clients on their mindset to help them get through the crap that is holding them back so they can light themselves and their lives more everyday. And being mean to ourselves is really not helping in our attempts to like ourselves and our lives.
So what is this all about and what does toxic self-talk have to do with creating a successful dental practice?
Well if you are beating yourself up, putting yourself down, and eroding your self worth and self confidence that attitude is going to impact on how you show up as a leader, how you present and diagnose treatment, your ability to handle mistakes or roadblocks and your capacity for growth both professionally and personally.
The way you speak to yourself has an enormous impact on how you interact with the world and deal with life and business.
I don’t know if you’ve heard this term tossed around, maybe you have maybe you haven’t, called self compassion that we need to learn to be more self compassionate and that sounds lovely and it sounds great but what does it actually mean. Now a lot of this information is based on the research of dr. Kristin Neff who took it upon herself to really just dive in and research what self compassion actually is and in her research she came up with three major parts of it we’re going to talk about what those are.
So the first one is self-kindness this is the first part of self-compassion. Self kindness now that sounds lovely, again it sounds really nice but what does it mean how do I learn to become kinder to myself: is it just about being I’m amazing, I’m great, I’m wonderful, I can do no wrong and just sort of telling ourselves all of these things that may or may not be true all the time or we may or not fully believe.
An easy way is to think about how you would respond to a good friend who is coming to you with the same struggle, who is coming to you and sharing something that they were going through if they were like ‘you know I just worked really hard and I had a really big failure and I’m feeling really bad and I’m feeling really disappointed’ what would you say would you say to them???
“Oh my gosh you’re such a loser”
“You’re pathetic what’s wrong with you”
“You can’t do anything right”
Now we know we probably would never say that to them but yet we would and do say those things to ourselves!
How many times have you said stuff like that to yourself if you haven’t done something perfectly or things haven’t gone quite right, if you’ve messed up or made a mistake in some way that you just dragged yourself over the coals and totally beat yourself up.
What would you say to a good friend who is coming to you with that struggle, you would probably say something like ‘man that’s really hard I’m here for you let’s talk about it. You know what people do make mistakes; you’re not a terrible person this stuff sometimes happens. You’re still an amazing human being; this doesn’t mean that you suck or that you’re a screw up. You just made a mistake and you’re judging yourself to be a bad person.’
So whatever you would say to a good friend who was coming to you with the exact same struggle, the exact same dilemma, the exact same internal conflict think about the words you would use with them and use those same words with yourself. Use words of kindness, of compassion, of understanding, of support and give yourself that same kindness.
2. Common Humanity
So the first part of beating your toxic talk is self-kindness and this is probably the simplest way to learn how to be kinder to ourselves. The next part of self-compassion is called common humanity and what this means is that we all have our stuff but often we have this belief that I’m the only one who sucks or I’m the only one who’s broken, or I’m the only one who’s pathetic or I’m the only one who’s just not cutting it in life or I’m the only one that’s not good enough and that it looks like everybody else is doing fine and happy and good and has it all together and I am the only one who deals with these kinds of things.
But the truth is we all have our crap no, matter what something looks like on the outside nobody rides for free.
We all have been through things; we might be going through things right now.
Just because someone looks like they have it all together and their life is great it doesn’t mean that they don’t have their stuff that they have had to deal with or are currently working through.
Yeah maybe that person is going through a really good time right now, that things are good for that person but that doesn’t mean that it always has been good for them and it doesn’t mean that they don’t still have stuff in their lives that they’re struggling with or suffering with or have struggled with or have suffered with.
We all have our stuff and I can say this one with complete confidence and conviction as I have been there myself and seen and heard so many stories from family, friends, colleagues, patients and clients that irrespective of what we project, what walk of life we are from that people at all success levels from all physical appearance levels from all social status that we all have stuff that we’ve been through.
Ok so some of us more than others but there’s nobody that just has it all together and always has had it all together and never suffers and never struggles.
So how often do you find yourself trying to cover up and hide what is happening for you? Pretending you’ve got your s-h-i-t together. The way you’re feeling, the fact you’re struggling with something, or going through something that is challenging you. And do you think to yourself ‘if ever anyone else knew that this is what I was going through my mind or this is how I was feeling and this is what I was thinking then they go running for the hills”
Do you really believe that absolutely no other people have felt the exact same way as you do?
In our common humanity we are way more similar than different, we all sometimes wonder if we matter, if we’re good enough, if we have what it takes, if we’re worthy of love, if we deserve connection and success and happiness.
We all have those questions; we all wonder those things, so common humanity allows you to see that you’re not the only person who sucks while everybody else is doing great.
The truth is we all sometimes suck and we all make mistakes and stuff up. The only difference is how we handle it and what we say to ourselves when we do.
But sadly the most common response is to beat up on ourselves rather than demonstrate self-kindness.
So step one – be kinder to yourself, step two know you aren’t the only one with this issue and its ok we’ve all been there done that.
3. Be Present and Aware
Then our last one is being present and bringing awareness to yourself, your feelings and the world and people around you.
Its about learning how to be present with our emotions, to observe them and not be owned or taken over by them, to come back to yourself and reconnect to who you are inside: a person who is kind and loving and worth of being loved.
It is about learning how to just sit with whatever it is we’re feeling without judging ourselves, feeling it without criticising ourselves for feeling it without making it mean something like telling ourselves that we’re no good or we don’t have what it takes or that we’re weak or pathetic for feeling our feelings.
It’s about allowing ourselves to observe and notice and be present with what we’re feeling not pushing it aside, not spiralling down with it but just sitting and noticing this is what I’m feeling whether it’s right or wrong or good or bad or helpful or unhelpful or serving or not serving, logical or illogical this is what I’m feeling.
The problem is we feel a certain way and then we create a story or a meaning to that which we then use to bring in our toxic self-talk. Telling myself that I’m terrible or awful or not allowed to feel what I’m feeling is actually not going to make me feel any better.
Learning to be self-compassionate, learning to just sit with and be present with our emotions isn’t something that’s always easy and it is something that comes through practice.
For me I have found a practice called the gentle breath mediation to be a valuable tool when first learning to be more aware of how I am feeling, my emotions and thoughts and to use the gentle breath to bring me back to a centred state where I can connect back to who I am and not be taken over by the emotion or situation.
Beating Toxic Talk With Self-Compassion
Self-compassion or learning to be less of an a-hole to ourselves will help us be more supportive of who we are, to bring perspective to live, to let things go and not make such a big deal out of things that really aren’t worth beating ourselves up over.
Through developing self-compassion, kindness and being more gentle with yourself you can let go the negative self talk or catch it before it gets wildly out of hand and self abusive. The upshot of this is you believe in yourself more, increase confidence, self worth and your ability to be vulnerable knowing it’s a strength and the mark of a great leader.
This will then impact on your ability to be the type of boss, dentist and person you would like to be and this will have a huge ripple effect into the way you are with people, they way you treatment plan and present cases because your self-confidence and self-esteem become an inside job and you are less at the mercy of outside events dictating your inner world and feelings.
So what are you waiting for, what is it that you’re telling yourself that you need to be or have or become before you’re going to allow yourself to like yourself, to be good to yourself, to be kind to yourself, to accept yourself?
Are you waiting and telling yourself ‘I absolutely that get into a place of perfection before I can start being nicer to myself, like myself or accept myself’. Well I’m going to burst your bubble for you – it’s just not going to happen because it just doesn’t exist there is no such thing as perfection and here’s the beauty of it we are all perfectly imperfect.
Being kinder to yourself and accepting yourself does not mean that you are not still learning and growing and expanding and working through things in your life but it does mean that you can say ‘I accept and love myself in this process that I love myself as perfectly imperfect’ and at the same time acknowledge that ‘I have things to work on but that does not determine my worth as a human being’
So what are you waiting for – you need to ask yourself and I want you to ask yourself what are you waiting for in order to give yourself permission and space to be compassionate, to be kind and loving and accepting of yourself. Whatever it is I want to ask you if you can do it anyway, if you can create space to accept yourself despite your flaws maybe even sometimes because of them because we all have them.
Learning to be more self-compassionate involves being able to cut ourselves a break, to be less of an a-hole to ourselves.
If you can be more gentle with yourself it will go a long way for our mental health, for the promotion of wellbeing, for our happiness, our sense of self-esteem and confidence. It will go along way to helping beat the issues we face in dentistry, the depression, stress, and burnout and suicide statistics if we can start being kinder to ourselves and each other and cut that toxic self-talk.