Is there anyone out there who says mean things to themselves in their heads?  Be honest!  We all have some kind of running dialogue in our heads (our thoughts) and sometimes we take it to a negative place, saying super ugly things to ourselves.  Most of the time, they are things that you’d never say to someone else, even if you thought it.  So why do we do this to ourselves?

Here are some general examples:

  • You can’t wear that type of dress; you’re too fat.
  • So-and-so has more style than I do; I’m dumpy looking.
  • How could I have said that to “Susie”?  I’m so stupid.
  • I hate this job but I can’t do anything else.
  • I’m always late because I just can’t get it together.
  • You’ll never have a good relationship because no one quality would want you.
  • One of these days, people will find out that I’m not good at my job.

Of course, the inner dialogue isn’t always negative but with teens and young adults who are still finding their way, these thoughts happen a lot and it isn’t good!  When you throw in some stress or anxiety, these negative thoughts tend to come a lot more quickly, for adults and teens alike.  We need to change this for our emotional wellbeing and for our life experience…but how?  Here are 4 tips that will start you or your teen on the right path.

Increase your self-awareness

Take note of what you said to yourself and question the validity of your statement.  You can learn to manage your inner dialogue and reframe negativity.  This doesn’t mean that everything will always be completely perfect or you’ll feel sunny all the time – nobody does! But you can stop the vicious cycle.

For example:  “How could I have said that to Susie?  I’m so stupid.”  can be reframed to:  “I wish I hadn’t said that to Susie.  I will call her and apologize.  My head wasn’t thinking straight and I made a mistake. I’m human. I’ll feel better after I clear it up with her.”

You can also tell yourself to knock it off!!!  I often say to myself “Stop that.  I see what you’re doing and it’s not helpful.”

Live in the present

Live in the present without rehashing the past.  If you must rehash any regrets or mistakes, allow yourself the time to feel bad but then move on.  If you can’t change it, there is no point in constantly beating yourself up about it!

Take a good look at your own positive qualities

In coaching sessions with clients, I often work on identifying values, gifts, talents, and strengths.  Sometimes we talk about the characteristics that other people have that we admire and strive for in our own lives.  This allows us the chance to decide how we want to show up in the world but also to appreciate the qualities that make us unique without comparing ourselves to others!

Practice gratitude

  • Although gratitude has been hijacked sometimes on social media and merged with the dreaded humble-brag (“Look at my brand-new Porsche #gratitude), sincere gratitude very positively affects humans.
  • Take stock once a day of the things that were good, the things that worked in your life that day, the little things. 
  • Whether you choose to write them in a journal or simply think through them before bed, you’ll find some peace in this practice.

If your child is struggling with self-esteem, confidence, and communication, please reach out to me or another qualified professional to help them sort through the inner dialogue.  Together we can banish that nasty voice and replace it with a kinder, gentler voice that has skills to handle anything that comes at them.  Be well!