On Negative Self-Talk: Why My Self-Care Journey Started With My Inner Dialogue
Today on the blog, #BBATX committee member Kaia Adams walks us through her journey toward positive self-talk as a self-care routine.
Editor’s note: Our needs change based on what we go through and what we face in life—positive self-talk won’t solve trauma or struggles with depression and mental health. So, remember that self-care can also look like seeking help from a medical professional or seeing a therapist or making big, difficult changes within our lives.
I thought that as long as I followed what everyone else seemed to be preaching about self-care, I could be where I wanted to be. I did all the things—superfood-charged matchas, eat well, less social media, treat yourself splurges, regularly work out, oil pulls, dry brushes, nightly tea times, take all the baths, do all the face masks. The only thing this did for me was overwhelm me, become disappointed in myself when I didn’t follow through and successfully distract me from the work I really needed to be doing.
The more and more I experimented with the external factors of my self-care routine, I realized some of my negative thoughts and feelings toward myself actually began within me. I determined it was time to squash that pesky inner voice that tells me I can’t and I’m not enough.
Identifying My Negative Self-Dialogue
So, what is negative self-talk?
”Each of us has a set of messages that play over and over in our minds. This internal dialogue, or personal commentary, frames our reactions to life and its circumstances. One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, hope, and joy is to intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk. Too often, the pattern of self-talk we’ve developed is negative. We remember the negative things we were told as children by our parents, siblings, or teachers. We remember the negative reactions from other children that diminished how we felt about ourselves. Throughout the years, these messages have played over and over in our minds, fueling our feelings of anger, fear, guilt, and hopelessness.” — Psychology Today
Once I looked inward (rather than outward) to find my own form of peace and happiness, I found that my inner dialogue carried a lot more weight. I had to start with self-talk and figure out what my language was like.
Was I speaking kindly?
Was I practicing patience and understanding toward myself?
Was I celebrating my small wins? My big wins?
If you’re answering ‘no’ to these questions like I did, you know what it’s liked to get in your own way and feel trapped. I needed to drop the judgment and practice kindness toward myself. But how? I had to take responsibility for where I was and the words I chose—then make some changes.
Was I taking ownership of my life and the direction it was headed? Had I been making excuses? Had I adopted a victim-oriented mindset? If I had the power to sustain unhappy narratives in my life, I had the power to remove them. End of story.
Realizing that I have a hand in my own emotional reality has empowered me and provided me with the tools to help clean my inner dialogue up. You can’t bash yourself into a life you love—you must support and uplift yourself with patience and understanding.
For me, this looks like practicing acceptance and flexing my self-love muscle. It meant accepting where I am and loving the hell out of it anyway. It’s being able to embrace who I am, flaws and failures included.
I learned to soften and be gentle with myself. I stopped telling myself I wasn’t enough and replaced those limitations with possibility. Practically, I started catching myself in negative thought patterns and made the conscious decision to speak with more intention until it became a habit. I now use empowering, positive verbiage until the negativity is crowded out. I also let go of that which isn’t serving my happiness and redirect my focus toward the things that do. Ultimately, I have been reconnecting with my intuition and becoming my own best friend.
So yes—a good bath and a face mask can absolutely make us feel good. It is, however, asking ourselves the difficult question of why we’re doing something that matters the most. If the answer is because it genuinely makes us feel good, refreshed and reset, then we’re golden. If the answer is because we think it’s what we’re supposed to be doing to help us achieve inner peace, then it’s time to make some changes and realign with the truth of how we feel.
(And let me tell you, that superfood-charged matcha tastes so much sweeter now.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kaia Adams is a 2019 #BBATX Committee member and an advocate for breaking the barriers of discrimination and inequity so that we can benefit from interconnectedness and cultivate a more just world. She obtained her BA in Global Studies and Spanish from Sonoma State University in 2014. Her studies and previous residence in Spain and Italy allowed her to gain an awareness of the international nature of contemporary social issues surrounding us and have prepared her to be an agent of change. Originally a San Diego, CA native, Kaia has lived and worked in Austin, Texas since 2015. Passionate about helping people feel their best, her upcoming ventures will explore her interests in coaching, women’s health, holistic skincare, and the power of positive psychology.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, #BBATX committee members have been sharing their strategies for self-care and mental health. If you’re curious about what we do at #BBATX, you can learn more here.