Self-Talk as a Means to Self-Love

I used to say horrible things to myself. It became so common that I didn’t even notice anymore.

I’d forget something important or miss a deadline at work and my self-talk became vitriolic:

“You missed ANOTHER deadline, you piece of shit?”

“You don’t deserve to be alive.”

“You’re just gonna self-sabotage for the rest of your life, aren’t you?”

These thoughts came up more than I realized, and their impact ran deeper than I imagined.

Over years of hearing these things, I started to believe this story I told myself — and who could blame me? Over time, I thought, “You know what? I’m right…

“I AM a total piece of shit.”

“I DON’T deserve to be alive.”

“I AM a lazy fuck.”

But at least these negative thoughts were easy to recognize (even if I didn’t yet understand their impact).

The more nefarious self-talk came out as jokes. I’d drop something on the ground and say, “Nice going, dumbass.”

(Bonus points if I said it out loud, because then it might get a laugh.)

As jokes, I could rationalize my negative self-talk by belittling my feelings:

“Don’t be so sensitive,” I’d tell myself. “I was just making a joke about myself.”

Here’s the rub, though…

I was perpetuating some strange phenomenon that I didn’t recognize until recently:

Rationalizing my negative self-talk in this way (“It was just a joke!”) was incredibly passive-aggressive…against myself.

Once I recognized my self-talk for the passive (and sometimes not-so-passive)-aggressiveness that it was, I had to ask myself a difficult question:

“Would I accept my self-talk from a stranger?”

Fuck no. I’d fight against it with my life. So why did I accept it from myself?

Because I’d been telling myself these negative things and dismissing their impact for years. They barely even registered as negative anymore — that’s just how I talked to myself.

Then once I recognized it, I saw it everywhere, and felt how negative self-talk led me to accepting less than I deserved in work, relationships, and creativity.

“Of course you got less than what you wanted,” I’d say. “You’re still that same piece of shit.”

Once I realized this, I became vigilant about my negative self-talk. I started with my verbal self-talk. My close friends and I decided to keep each other accountable to the things we said about ourselves.

If we said something unduly negative about ourselves, we’d tell each other “Watch that self-talk.”

We had to say it more than any of us expected (and we fought against it a surprising amount — “That wasn’t negative, it was just honest”).

Then, once we no longer needed each other to recognize our SPOKEN negative self-talk, we used that as a template to watch our own UNSPOKEN thoughts.

“Watch that self-talk,” I’d say as I started to berate myself.

Then I accelerated my progress with intentional gratitude practices:

Every morning I write down three things I’m grateful for (even if it’s a bowl of cereal), and every evening I write down three more things I’m grateful for (even if it’s a soft bed).

It was (and is) surprisingly hard work.

Over years of practice, I had become a master of negative self-talk. I know my weaknesses better than anyone else. I’ve had to literally retrain my thoughts.

But the results have been remarkable.

Most notably, I’ve stopped calling myself a lazy piece of shit for taking “too many breaks” from work.

Instead I ask myself:

“What would a compassionate person say about my behavior right now?”

In those moments, the most common answer is that I’m an artist. I’m not being lazy when I go on a 2-hour bike ride in the middle of the day, or watch a movie on a weekday afternoon. I’m gathering material. I’m working through ideas.

My “work” will never look like 9–5 work, and calling myself lazy for that keeps me smaller as an artist.

As I treat myself more kindly, my negative self-talk has become (mostly) replaced by gratitude.

“I’m grateful I chose a profession that allows me freedom.”

“I’m grateful for my ability to create.”

“I’m grateful for the people I have in my life…especially myself.”

So I ask you:

Would you let someone else talk to you the way you talk to yourself?

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greg larson writing

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Author, Yogi, and Lead Crypto Game Writer in Austin, TX. Greg-Larson.com

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Greg Larson

Greg Larson

Author, Yogi, and Lead Crypto Game Writer in Austin, TX. Greg-Larson.com

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