Believe it or not, we all have an inner monologue (self-talk) going on. You have to admit you’ve wondered about “the look” someone gave you, or the tone in his or her voice. Your inner voice helps you make decisions on how to react to situations. Your reactions are based on your temperament, your personality and your own inner self-talk. What if your inner voice is not helping, and is making it worse? This is when we need to affirm ourselves, change that voice, and accept with a more positive attitude.
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For example, suppose you pitch an idea to someone (a boss, client, or close friend) with the hope they will like it. You send the pitch via email. You’re all excited about the content of the email, holding your breath, waiting to hear back.
You don’t immediately hear back. A day or two passes and still nothing. What is your automatic thought?
This is a situation where you have made yourself vulnerable and you’re not getting any response. Here is how our inner monologue may play out:
Thought #1 – hmmm, I wonder if my email went to her spam folder?
Thought #2 – I wonder if she hates my idea but is trying to figure out how to tell me?
Thought #3 – (similar to thought #2, but goes further) Did I totally make myself look stupid in this email and now ruined my chances to get through to this person?
Do you recognize those thoughts? Do you automatically think negatively or positively? Do you project your negative thoughts onto others like thought #2 and #3 imply?
Projection is a defense mechanism whereby we assume others believe the negative thoughts we have about ourselves. This can keep self-esteem low. When you have a head full of negative thoughts, you don’t need people to judge you. You’ve got enough material to work with because you have judged yourself and believe that the other person is the one judging you.
In reality, you’ve projected these negative thoughts onto the other person and when you do that you set yourself up for needing them to affirm you and build you up. Unfortunately we cannot rely on others to do that for us, so self-affirming must begin.
How do you recognize the need to affirm yourself?
When you are feeling bad about a situation you first have to recognize the emotion. You know you can’t read the other person’s mind, so you stop right there because that’s your first flag. Whether it’s based on an action or inaction, what assumption did you make about what the person said? Did you skew their opinion to fit your own negative construct of yourself?
The next step is to rethink the negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and supportive ones.
Affirming those thoughts.
You have to be able to affirm yourself internally because you cannot expect others to right your wrong thought (they don’t know about it). Think about the feeling or emotions created by the situation. Is it fear, disappointment, and/or anger? How are you reacting to those emotions? Are you internalizing or exploding? Recognizing how you react is a great exercise that can help you in your efforts to affirm yourself.
Needing to affirm doesn’t mean you are depressed or have no friends. We all have a negative tape running in our heads at times. Recognizing the signs of projection, negative emotions, or negative thinking and reacting is a start. This exercise of affirming yourself can be to completely overhaul how you pull yourself out of the doldrums or simply fine-tune yourself so that your inner contentment just gets better and better.
Want to get better at identifying your emotions?
Click to download these free emotion cards.
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