(Me and my lil bro in San Diego 2014)
Have you ever gotten stuck replaying poor choices you’ve made over and over in your head? You can’t seem to shake the images or your own interpretations of what happened. The things you’re telling yourself about those choices borders on verbal self-abuse. You’re so disappointed in yourself, embarrassed by what you did, and just plain wondering if you were even in your right mind at the time? I go through phases where this comes up for me and my initial response is to beat the heck out of myself, which leaves me feeling defeated. This messes with my self-confidence and ability to trust that I can and often do make great choices most of the time!
I am naturally a perfectionist and often don’t try new things for fear of failure. In this new chapter of my life, I’ve given myself permission to try things and be ok if they don’t work out. The hard part has been when I make poor choices (and I’ve made my fair share), allowing myself to focus on what I learned about myself from the experience, instead of honing in and beating myself up about what I think I did wrong. If this scenario sounds familiar to something you’ve experienced, then here are some tips to move past this destructive thought pattern and back to a healthy mindset that serves us. This way, we can keep making the incredible difference in this world that we are meant to make!
- Forgive YOU first– So often we are told to forgive others so that we can be free. I totally agree, but I’ve also experienced that sometimes I’m more upset with myself then I am with anyone else. It can be really hard to forgive myself, because just saying, “I forgive myself,” doesn’t seem to make it go away. I have to start with giving myself compassion. I go back to thoughts of the poor choice and try to see why I made the choices I made through the lens of compassion. Almost like a friend is observing and saying, “I can see why you made that choice when you did with the best information that you had at the time.” It’s funny how easily we can show compassion and understanding to others, but when it comes to ourselves, we struggle. When I see my situation through the eyes of a friend, I see my choices from a different perspective, and that enables me to forgive myself for making the decisions I made.
- Lesson Learned– Another thing that helps me rise above my negative self-talk is asking myself what I learned about myself from this experience. What would I do differently next time? How can I make better choices in the future? This process helps me to be better prepared should I be faced with a similar situation again. When I trust that it’s all part of the learning and growing process, then I can accept myself and the experiences both good and bad as experiences to be learned along the way!
- Focus on the bigger plan– When I notice I am stuck cycling through the story of what happened, I will stop, bring my thoughts to the present moment, and then think about times in my life when I made mistakes, but God ended up working them all out for good. After Andrew passed away, I could see a bigger picture of what God had been doing in our lives, and how He was ultimately preparing us to go through one of life’s biggest challenges. Thinking about this reminds me there is a bigger picture at play than this choice I made that I’m beating myself up about. I can see how God could use my poor decisions for a bigger purpose to move me closer to who He has created me to be.
How do you move yourself through destructive thoughts about yourself when you think you’ve made bad decisions? What do you do to keep yourself from getting stuck? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below. I truly believe that God has a unique plan and purpose for each of our lives, and that it’s important to be willing to work through all the negative thoughts we create about ourselves. By doing this, we can step fully toward doing the things God has created us to do! If you want to talk through creating more positive self-talk in your life email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free coaching session. Thank you for spending time with me today! Blessings.