My Toxic Trait Is Negative Self-Talk

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By Theresa Faughnan

We all know the saying that we are our own worst enemies.

We live in a society where individuals are constantly being pushed to be “better” than others: faster, stronger, thinner, richer. We are sent the subliminal message that if we are not trying to improve ourselves, we’re not living our lives to the fullest.

However, I think a big part of that has to do with how we treat ourselves.

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We’ve all heard the saying that we can’t love others until we fully love ourselves. Loving yourself is hard. Take it from me: I’ve been trying to build self-esteem for years now.

Years of counseling and self-reflection have taught me that my inability to believe in myself could come from a confrontational household I grew up in or school bullies.

Now, in my 30s, I am trying to erase these negative thought patterns. And trust me when I say: it’s not easy.

Do I know I should love myself? Yes.

Do I know if I had higher self-esteem, I would see things from a much more positive perspective? Yes.

Is it way easier said than done? Yes, yes, and yes.

For as long as I can remember, my internal monologue has been far from supportive. Whenever I failed at something, whether it was academic or personal, I automatically told myself I was destined to fail and would never be good enough.

Whenever I experienced heartache or a fallout with a friend, I assumed I was the only one to blame.

In truth, I still don’t know exactly when these patterns formed and how to reverse them. I do know, though, that I am actively trying to be a better person to myself.

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Here is an example of all of the things I’ve tried:

Self-Help Books: I actually think I’ve read over 20. These have some useful bits of information in, and I’ve applied some of the advice. Unfortunately, the effects from these books are temporary, as I’m soon back in the negative spiral.

Therapy: I’ve talked to several therapists. But truthfully, I have backed out before we finished doing “the work” because I convinced myself that therapy wouldn’t work either.

Journaling: It’s a great tool for many, so I encourage you to try it. For me, putting my thoughts on paper only makes them more real and validates my feelings.

Meditation: It helps to steady my thoughts and brings me a sense of calm and peace. But, again, it only works short-term, and I find myself back in negative thought patterns shortly after.

I have experienced love in my life: I am currently in the most loving relationship of my life. So, I truthfully don’t know if I believe we can’t love others if we don’t love ourselves.

I do know that we all deserve to love ourselves and feel our own self-worth.

I also know I want to love myself, but I just don’t know why my brain is the way it is or how to fix it.

Hopefully, not very many people go through the same toxic brain patterns as I do. But if you or someone you know needs assistance, there are always resources to turn to.

Most importantly, know there is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it’s admirable to know when you need support and actively seek it. Some numbers to call include 1-800-273-8255, 1-800-622-HELP, or you can look up local resources on Google.

Stay well, and remember you are worthy of good things. The light in me recognizes the light in you.

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Theresa Faughnan is a writer whose work focuses on lifestyle, family, and mental health topics. Visit her author profile on Unwritten for more.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.