On the Power of Self-Talk

leaves-smallThink about the things you say to yourself, out loud or in your head. Would you ever speak to someone else that way?

A few months back, I attended a leadership training in which we role played a very unique scenario. First, we described a time when someone put a great deal of stress on us. Our partner role-played as that person and we were charged with first responding as we did at the time, and then responding after taking a deep breath and centering ourselves, in order to notice the difference.

negative-self-talkOne of the participants chose to have their partner act out their own thoughts. Much like myself, this person was more impacted by their own thoughts than any stress caused by another. In the exercise debrief, we talked about how it felt. The partner who had to act out this person’s self-berating was on the verge of tears. He talked about how hard it was for him to talk to her that way, how he imagined saying those things to his wife and it broke his heart. Continue reading

On the Fears that Follow Us

the_fears_that_follow_usEveryone has them. The fears that follow you through your whole life, nagging at you incessantly through every interaction you have. For most of us, those fears don’t even look like fears anymore. They have morphed into a part of our being, we explain them away as if they are just a part of our personality, just the way we are and that can never change.

For me, that fear is being boring or, as many of the people I knew in high school and college put it, “too adult”. I know, that is very broad and probably seems like something I could change easily with a bit of effort, the right clothes and a willingness to take on new hobbies or go out to the bar more often. In reality, whether I’m boring or not, the fear is there and the fear is the thing that is hardest to get rid of. Continue reading

On Celebrating Successes

As someone that often falls into perfectionist thinking, I struggle focusing on successes. Instead, I check it off and move on to the next thing. If I fail though, I spend days focusing on what I could have done better. This has led me to have a very skewed view of my own achievement, with the failures far outweighing the successes, despite the failures often being the things that show me how to succeed in the future.

I first recognized this skew in my self-assessment when I was about 20 years old. I was going through yet another sever bought of depression, in the midst of making one of the more difficult decisions I’ve made in my life. While I was in the process of deciding to give up on my declared major, Chemistry, I was deep in a mire of self-hate. I spent nearly all day, every day, thinking about why I was not doing well, why I wasn’t succeeding no matter how hard I tried. I thought about how disappointed my family would be.  Continue reading