The biggest personal challenge I face continually is maintaining a healthy self-image. After sharing my thoughts with one of my mentors last week, I was challenged to look at what I thought and believed about myself. This person could see in me the tendency to not like myself, and that’s just not realistic.
What’s not to like? I’m a decent guy, I care about people, I am in good physical condition, have a great job, a successful small business, and am involved in lots of great things with some very positive, uplifting people.
Well, my mind is a funny thing. Maybe you can identify. Sometimes it likes to tell me that I’m not good enough. Sometimes it likes to tell me that I’m not fair enough as a boss. Sometimes it likes to tell me that I’m not worth what I charge in my own business. Some days it really has nothing nice to say to me at all. Some days it’s like my brain is trying to set me up for failure: it seems to want to get me to believe enough bad things about myself that I just give up, pack up, throw in the towel, lay down and stop engaging in life.
Can you identify with this? Most people I work with can, to a greater or lesser extent. Oftentimes we go see the doctor, they call it “Depression,” prescribe medication for it, and we really don’t end up feeling much better. We sometimes engage in maladaptive behaviours to numb out the pain: drugs, alcohol, excessive eating, gambling, working too much, promiscuity, the list goes on. Is there a solution that’s better than these?
You bet. I recommend you read Dr. David Burns’ book “Ten Days to Self Esteem.” He teaches you how to speak to the negative thoughts and change them. His philosophy is “change the thought, change the feeling that the thought creates.” Often we think that negative and/or depressed feelings “just occur.” They don’t. They’re the result of our thinking, so if we address the thinking, we change the negative feelings that result.
In the weeks to come we’ll look at ways to address negative self-talk, and how to overcome it. We’ll rely heavily on Dr. Burn’s work, since he’s been so helpful to me, but we’ll involve lots of other concepts and ideas as well. Stay tuned, and check back every Friday!