What You Tell Yourself Can Affect Your Self Esteem

Everyone has an internal dialog. You may be aware of it or not. Your self talk can help or hurt your self esteem. If you are constantly putting yourself down or making judgments about yourself, it chips away at your confidence.

You have control over increasing your confidence by paying attention to your thoughts. Your internal dialog can be such a habit that you may not realize what you’re saying to yourself. To learn to tune into your mind chatter, you might have to start by paying attention to how you feel and work backwards to what you were telling yourself just before this feeling.

This is the basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: an activating event (A) leads to a thought or belief (B) which leads to a feeling or consequence (C). Here’s an example: you’re really enjoying the discussion in class (or a meeting). You decide to raise your hand and share your thoughts. The instructor sees your hand then looks at the clock and says he needs to leave early and ends class. You go from feeling energized and excited to hurt and embarrassed. So working backwards from those feelings (consequence (C)), the event (A) is the instructor not calling on you. The belief/thought (B) might be that the instructor doesn’t value your input or that others are making some negative assessment about you because you weren’t called on.

If you’re able to work backwards and identify the thoughts you had, you can begin to change them. You can come up with more positive beliefs about what happened: that the instructor simply didn’t notice your hand being raised; that raising your hand coincided with him remembering to check the time and then that he needed to leave early and told the class—he was so distracted by what time it was he didn’t acknowledge your hand being up. Your classmates may be feeling empathy with you because of a time they raised their hand and weren’t called on; they may be so absorbed in their own thoughts they didn’t notice your hand being raised or they may feel disappointment that they didn’t get to hear your thoughts.

The point is you get to choose what you tell yourself. It can be positive or negative. Since your thoughts are yours and yours alone, why not make them positive?