“What ever made you think you could do this? You’re obviously not cut out for it.”
“You should just quit, tell everyone they wasted their time on you. You’re not tough enough.”
“You’re a loser.”
What would you say to a friend who told you things like that? They probably wouldn’t be your friend for much longer, would they?
But what if it’s you doing the trash-talking to yourself? How can you escape someone who follows you everywhere you go?
The sentences at the beginning of this post are just a few of the things I told myself after a meltdown on Saturday. As you can see, negative thoughts can get ugly.
Why was I being so hard on myself? I’ve recently started sparring again, after a long, long break. To get better faster, I’ve been training with people who are much more skilled than I am. They also haven’t taken a long break from sparring, so they’re more comfortable with it.
Do you know what happens in my martial art when you train with people who are better than you? You get your ass kicked.
I haven’t been hurt, but my ego has been severely bruised. And instead of reminding myself that I’m new to this, I keep going back to how I was a decade ago, when I sparred every day and had no problem being assertive and aggressive.
What would I say to a friend who was in the same situation?
“Don’t worry…it’ll come back. You were great before, and you will be great again. It just takes practice. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
So why am I so much nastier to myself? There was no support, no encouragement at all coming from me to me. And, as you can imagine, my critical thoughts made things worse, bringing on a full-on crying jag (thankfully I was cloistered in my dojo’s bathroom at the time).
I wanted to offer some helpful tips for fighting negative self-talk in this post, but a web search on the topic revealed nothing but sales pitches from self-help gurus or cheesy gimmicks. (I’m sorry, but I don’t think snapping myself with a rubber band would have done the slightest bit of good.)
All we can really do is keep trying to treat ourselves like we treat our friends…with patience, with support, and with love. And like everything else, this takes practice. Some days will be better than others. There will be occasional crying jags in the bathroom (but hopefully not many).
One thing that I have to always remember: never getting knocked down does not make me a fighter. It’s always being able to get back up.
How about you, Dear Readers? Do you ever have a problem with negative self-talk? How do you stop it in its tracks?