Let’s face it, becoming your own best friend can be pretty challenging. We sometimes wake up feeling stupid about ourselves and about the mistakes we have made.
We can say bad things about ourselves. In fact, Dr. Shad Helmstetter, author of, “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself,” observed decades ago that most of what we say about ourselves is negative.
So how do we become our own best friend?
First, we must realize that our feelings ebb and flow throughout the day—or a lifetime—and that this fluctuation is normal. Not to worry!
And second, most of our feelings are not coming from “out there” somewhere; they are coming from our beliefs.
More specifically, they are coming from what we are choosing to say to ourselves about ourselves and our lives.
The good news is that you can change what you are saying.
So here are six research-based thinking habits that you can choose to believe, taken from Dr. Meg Selig, author of “Change power! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success.”
None of us feel confident all the time
It sounds counter-intuitive, but normal people never feel confident all the time. In fact, a little self-doubt is quite helpful.
It keeps us humble enough to realize we may need to learn more or work harder at something. It may even give us the dogged determination to keep going and “show people what you’re made of.” Dr. Alice Boyes, in her useful new book, “The Healthy Mind Toolkit,” describes her realization that she needs both self-confidence and self-doubt to do her best work.
Doubt, according to Boyes, “causes us to question what we’re doing, mentally prepares us to accept change, propels us to work harder or differently, and can lead to us taking more cooperative approaches in dealing with people who disagree with us.”
Show compassion toward your Future Self.
Caring for your Future Self could involve actions as small as filling up your gas tank this afternoon because you have a busy morning tomorrow and as far-sighted as exercising now for better health as you age. “I may not want to exercise,” you could say to yourself, “But my Future Self sure would appreciate it.”
Be compassionate in your self-talk
Life is hard! Acknowledging that you need some comfort and to say comfortable things about yourself helps you be kinder to yourself. This is especially needed when you make those bonehead mistakes which all of us make!
Some examples of compassionate self-talk:
“It’s true that I didn’t do as well as I wanted on my presentation, but I was still a hero just to get through it.”
“Yes, I feel bad that I didn’t say NO to your friend’s request, but now it’s in my mental file so I’ll be more careful next time.”
“I don’t have to be perfect. No one is!”
“This too shall pass.”
Relabel “failures” as setbacks, challenges, opportunities, or learning experiences.
Remember Thomas Edison’s answer when asked how it felt to fail 999 times looking for the filament of a lightbulb. “I did NOT fail 999 times. I simply found 999 ways that didn’t work.”
People do NOT know what you know.
You are the genius of your own life. No one has ever lived your life, or has seen the things you has seen, or has learned the things you have learned in the exact way you have learned. People turn to you for information because you are totally unique. No one looks like you, nor thinks like you! Wow again!!!
Know your strengths.
Think back on the compliments you have been given.
Notice how much you enjoy or dislike certain kinds of tasks.
Take in the way you contributed to a situation and made it better.
Remembering and savoring positive feedback from others will help you internalize your strengths. Likewise, remembering other positive experiences will ingrain your special qualities into your brain.
Finally, remember that you can change the way you are thinking and what you are saying to yourself about yourself. Is it easy? Of course not, for you have had some of your thoughts your entire life.
However, realize this, dear reader. When did your old life end? One second ago. So when did your new life begin? One second ago. Now do the math. With 60 seconds per minute and 60 minutes per hour and 24 hours per day, you have 86,400 new opportunities for a new life every single day.
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent” and conducts “The Winners Circle” every two months at Sonoma Mountain Village in RP. Contact Steven at 480-5007 or go his website at stevenrcampbell.com to ask about his one-day free monthly seminar.