We know that our babies are born weak and defenseless, and that our sacred mission (as adoring and conscientious parents) is to protect and nurture them into maturity. At this point we're supposed to let them spread their wings, fly the nest and create their own lives.
Apparently this whole process takes just a blink of the eye to complete, and they're fully grown far too soon (for my liking at least), and off living their lives increasingly without us, *sob*. Can you tell I'm a bewildered mum of a teenager, and a teenager-in-the-making, wrestling with this imminent situation myself?
Whilst I acknowledge there are less-than-spectacular parents out there, for now I'm referring to those of us who try our hardest, to do our best by our bundles of joy, who were made from love. We would never knowingly do anything to sabotage or torpedo our babies' confidence or self-esteem, but many of us do so unintentionally, which is why I thought I'd pass my own learning on to you.
Negative self-talk is horribly common, and something I help people with almost every day. It can be crippling, whilst being a major cause of depression and anxiety. Negative self-talk is simply the habit of talking to yourself critically (often hypercritically), assuming the worst of yourself and running yourself down as anything negative, i.e.: wrong, stupid, unattractive, hopeless, unlovable, unemployable ... you get the gist. The first point I would like to make here is, this is your (negative) opinion of yourself, it's not a fact. My second point is, opinions can be changed.
We're all aware the mind is made up of the conscious and subconscious. If you liken the conscious mind to the Captain of a ship, who is responsible for the safe and successful direction of travel. Then liken the subconscious mind to the Crew of the ship, who is wholly obedient and subservient to the Captain/conscious. The Crew will hear everything the Captain says, and will then work 24/7/365 to make it so, to manifest the Captain's orders, beliefs and actions. The Captain's power is incredibly potent, and can work for or against you in equal measure. The beautiful part of this bargain is, you get to choose whether your Crew helps or hinders you.
Here's an example. If you are not currently skilled in the art of parallel parking and then repeatedly, consciously, tell yourself: "I'm hopeless at parallel parking", guess what? You will be! In this instance, your Crew/subconscious mind has heard 1) "I'm hopeless", and 2) "I can't parallel park". Your subconscious Crew will then work 24/7/365 to ensure you're hopeless and unable to parallel park. So what to do instead? Turn it on it's head! Cut out the negative self-talk and tell yourself: "My parallel parking is getting better and better every day", and let your subconscious Crew chew on them apples! Harness the power of positive affirmations to drive the changes you seek.
Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right!
WHAT'S THIS ABOUT A TORPEDO?
A torpedo is a weapon of mass destruction, which speeds unimpeded and unseen beneath the surface, to blow up and cause damage at a later point in time. [This now completes the naval weaponry segment of this blog].
Your negative self-talk is not only devastating to your own self-esteem (your sense of self-worth and personal value), it also impacts upon and mentally programmes your children, who are watching and learning from you intently.
As our babies are born weak and defenseless, they are completely reliant upon us to keep them alive and thriving. As they grow, our babies learn by mimicking us and, for a short while, we parents are almost God-like figures to our wholly dependent munchkins, before becoming total embarrassments ... obviously (or is that just me?).
We know we teach them how to walk, talk, potty train and tie shoelaces, but this is where the torpedo comes in. What many of us are not aware of is how many cues our children are picking up on and learning from us, when we're not consciously trying to teach them anything. Just like your subconscious Crew, our children hear us saying things like: "I'm too old to play football", "I'm too fat to wear that", "I'm not attractive enough for...", "I'm not good enough for..."
Our children know they are from us, whilst holding us in God-like esteem - however briefly. So when we refer to ourselves negatively (too fat, too thin, too old, too stupid, too hopeless, whatever), they subconsciously assign these negative qualities to themselves also. Let's look at it from their perspective; if you are too fat, too slow, too unattractive, too stupid - and I am from you, part of you, then that makes me too fat, too slow, too unattractive and too stupid too!
SILENT BUT DEADLY
The torpedo-like negative self-talk we apply to ourselves, which our children are hearing and absorbing as a universal truth, will speed unimpeded and unseen beneath the surface of their consciousness, only to blow up at times when self-esteem and personal confidence are called for, i.e.: exam time, driving lessons, job interviews. And all because we as parents didn't know better.
If ever the case for leading by example needed defending and promoting, this is it. We don't have to become narcissistic, vain and conceited preeners, we just need to nip any negative self-talk in the bud (once it makes its presence known), and to never verbalise such weaponised BS out loud. Mindfulness really is the key to success here. Living your life unthinkingly and on automatic pilot makes the development of toxic habits so much easier to establish.
Just for today (to begin with), talk to yourself as warmly and lovingly as you would your best friend. Make a conscious effort to become your own best friend; make time for yourself, eat well, sleep well, partake in activities that make you happier, stronger, healthier. Promote your own well-being as a priority (because it is), and these will become the tacit lessons you begin to teach those wide-eyed and wonder-filled hearts, who are mimicking your every move.