I am fortunate to have grown up in a very stable and supportive household, where I was pulled up rather than put down. I had a big sister that I was always striving to be like, so it helps to have goals. Even with my parents divorced I had enough self-confidence to never think to myself that it was my fault. And as I grew older, I just fell into being a pretty independent and confident young lady. Oh, and being in musical theater helped. What a fascinating, showy, confident, and supportive bunch of people. I highly recommend this as a path for your kids and my imaginary ones.
I am not big on negative self-talk, but I still participate as what I consider a "realist." I consider that I am basically reporting the obvious truth about myself, but that doesn't make it any better. In fact, it might just be even worse when I say out loud an obvious "truth," like I have chubby legs, and the person I am talking to kind of smirks and says nothing; a sad and silent admission that they probably agree. And that's not their fault, it is mine for bringing it up or not being comfortable with myself in the first place.
Even this can be dangerous. My friend Kathryn reminded me about how important it is now as a parent to remain positive about ourselves in front of our kids. What was once a mostly playful and harm-free comment about chubby legs becomes a much more impactful statement when your young daughter starts picking up on everything that you do.
So let's talk about some practical application ideas:
- Surround yourself with positive people: It is easy to do negative self-talk when it is frequently used or accepted by others around you. Not to mention, it is exhausting to have to constantly reassure someone of their value by saying, "Oh don't be silly, of course you are a good mom even if you forgot [fill in the blank]" ten times a day.
- Have someone hold you accountable: I correct my better half on negative self-talk, and now he does the same for me. That's fair.
- Balance it out: When you catch yourself having just spouted off some negative verbal clutter, own it and balance it out with a self-apology and a genuine and positive counterpart.