How Mindfulness and Self-Talk Improves Self-Esteem.
One of the main reasons for practicing mindfulness, is to be in the present. To be aware of the here and now. To be at one with yourself instead of standing in one place with your head somewhere totally different.
As I was planning to launch my second book Darker than Dark, which is all about mindfulness, I was thinking about where to begin shifting my own voice as an author. After spending several years talking from the point of a parent, and emotional awareness, I needed to find a voice that includes everyone, and brings more focus onto mindfulness.
I figured what better way to begin than with self-awareness, and self-talk. Do you find yourself looking in the mirror sometimes and it feels broken? Taking time to sit still and hear what's going on in your own inner-voice, can be a very beneficial form of mindfulness.
Self-talk is strongly built into every culture, and becomes a key part of every individual, but in some countries and cultures it can lead to a lot of negative self-talk. That's before adding the influence of generations of repeated teachings becoming a family inheritance of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are instilled from young.
Then comes all the drama and trauma that builds walls throughout life. Keeping sight of your true self can be really hard. No wonder those negative feelings creep in and your self-esteem drops through the floor, affecting your mental health in the long run.
I am well aware that I too have fallen into this void. have been guilty of knocking myself down, having been called out on it by friends and colleagues at times. It was when I was in my 40's, I found that working with a Norwegian company, their culture around self-talk is incredibly positive compared to the British Culture. I wasn't even aware how bad my own negative self-talk was till other adults started asking me why I do that to myself. It was a culture shock that shook me up in a good way.
The self-talk that we 'absorb' from family, school, work, dreadful journalism, and all the 'click-bait-titles' of social media and advertising, is something that can become such an innate part of your personality without you even realising it. It can then become hard to let go of that negative self-talk, that creeps in over the years. Then when your self-esteem is too low, all those people you listened to, don't want to listen to you.
Change is always possible and change begins with you.
I read an incredible book two years ago, called What to Say when you Talk to Yourself. This book above all, made me realise, that despite all the effort to use more positive language in many ways, and having worked on my own personal development for over 20 years, there were still many phrases that I still used - even as an inner voice - that were harming my own self-esteem.
One example is above: I originally typed 'change is never impossible' before realising there was a better way to say it as 'change is always possible'.
It really can be that subtle with self-talk. It means the same but the feelings behind those two phrases are very different. Read them out loud and see how each one feels.
'Change is never impossible' and 'Change is always possible'
Having worked hard to improve these phrases and self talk, I then suffered a sequence of medical reactions and setbacks in 2021 that finally triggered burnout, executive function shut-down, and ultimately depression at a level deeper than I've ever experienced it before.
All that progress fell back into low self-esteem, feeling useless, unwanted and unlovable. My negative self-talk took over again.
It is only in 2023 as my depression is leaving - and I'm waving merrily as it goes - that I have started to see a positive change once again in how I catch myself, and work on my own self talk again. My positive self-talk wants to be the shiny mirror of me, and not that broken mirror that nobody else wants to see. I'm sure yours does too.
Having launched my second book Darker than Dark - a colour filled journey of mindfulness, I have seen my inner voice change for the better throughout the publishing process.
A week later I was launching my next book,
A journal to write down moments where your inner voice was smiling and you felt on top of the world.
A place to capture those moments to revisit on days your self-talk needs a boost, by reminding you - you are enough.
There are some days still that my broken side still pops out and kicks me to the curb, but as long as I keep looking in the mirror and seeing the cracks disappear one at a time, everything is ok. I am enough.
A helpful Exercise: If you feel like your self-talk mirror is broken, start by writing down anything about yourself, even if it is not positive - yet. Then take a little time to reflect on each one. Do it on paper, or on a computer. Email yourself if you don't want anyone else to see it.
Think why you feel that way. What did you feel like before? and what you want to feel like in the future? Learn to re-write your negative thoughts as positive self-talk, even if you don't feel it yet. Use this as an affirmation and one day, you will catch yourself using it naturally, as your own positive self-talk.
When you work on your own self-talk, you will find less time worrying about what others say about you, and more time knowing - you are enough. That's what self-esteem is all about.