Gus and Joy took a math test today. They both studied really hard but they both got a C.
Gus said to himself:
I can’t believe you are so stupid. That test was so easy. How could I mess up so badly. I am worthless. My father was right, I’ll never amount to anything….
Joy said to herself:
I studied really hard for that test and I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but the next time I
will do much better.
Well, the next test was the midterm. Joy and Gus both studied but this time Joy got an A and Gus got a C. Why?
If we talked to our friends the way that we talk to ourselves, we would be mighty lonely. We really treat ourselves very badly.
Most of us talk to ourselves the way Gus talks to himself – we put ourselves down, we focus on the bad, AND
We minimize the good things that we do.
Think about how many times you receive a complement from others, only to make light of it.
It was no big deal.
Do you do that? Even if it is a big deal?
Getting an A on a test IS a big deal, landing that dream job IS a big deal, paying your bills on time IS a big deal. Lots of people can’t do those things, yet when WE do these things, we tell ourselves it’s no big deal.
Your subconscious records your accomplishments as no big deal.
Imagine your self-image as a scale. When you talk badly to yourself you weigh on the negative side, and when you talk nicely to yourself, you weigh on the positive side. Those “no big deals” become cotton and those “you stupid…” become lead.
Which way does your scale lean? What does that mean for your attitude about yourself? Where is that attitude taking you? (Remember your attitude determines your direction of travel.)
Give yourself a break
We all make mistakes, but we all do more things right than we do wrong.
Stop beating up on yourself when you make a mistake. Take a tip from Joy. Say, “That’s not like me. The next time I will…”
If you catch yourself talking negatively, stop immediately. Imagine your negative self-talk as an emotional monkey on your back.
I actually use Gus in my classroom (he has Velcro on his hands.) When I catch a student talking negatively, I put Gus around his or her neck. (He’s a well-know celebrity on campus.)
We live in a society where we are not permitted to praise ourselves openly. My grandmother used to say, “self praise stinks.”
But if you don’t praise yourself, who’s going to do it?
So, here’s what you do. In public, when you receive a compliment, say thank you.
In your head, give yourself an emotional high-five. Do the happy dance in your head when you achieve something.
This will put more weight on the positive side of your emotional scale. This will increase your self-worth and self-esteem.
You will be less afraid to go out there and conquer the world because you now know what a great person you truly are.
You truly are great. Don’t forget to tell yourself how great you really are.
A tip for parents
Talk to your kids in a positive way. If they make a mistake, remind them that they are not like that and ask them what they are going to do the next time. Help them to focus on the good in them as well.
The results will surprise you.
Share with me the nasty things that you no longer say to yourself. We can high-five your new emotional attitude together.