Last week, I wrote about ways to handle negative people in your life. While those kinds of people will come and go, the biggest critic you’ll come face to face with more often than not is yourself. Isn’t it the truth that we are the hardest on ourselves? We tend to demean, doubt and put ourselves down in our own thoughts more than anyone else.
Let’s take a moment and think of all the negative things we’ve told ourselves over the years. I’ll do mine as an exercise: “I’m fat.” “I wish I could learn this faster.” “I look so ugly today.” “I’ll never get that job.” “I’m never going to find someone to spend my life with.” “This always happens to me.” Would I ever be caught saying these things I’ve said about myself to anyone I know? 100% NO. I don’t think any of you would, either. So why do we allow ourselves to talk to ourselves in that way?
For me, many people I’ve come across in my life have told me over the years that I’m too hard on myself. It all comes down to doubt and worrying about what others think of me. And let me tell you, that was no different when it came time to start Lipstick & Ink. Once I decided to start a blog, one of my first thoughts was, is anyone even going to read this? I have had previous blogs that virtually no one read or I was poked fun of for. So, as you can imagine, those negative thoughts creeped back and I began to doubt myself. Would my readers even understand my blog name (side note, if you don’t, take a read here). Would my writing matter? Would people like the layout of my site? Would people like me?
While we can try to push the negative thoughts of others away, it’s so much harder to push our own thoughts away. It’s easy to fall in the trap of getting caught in our own thoughts and letting them consume us. It can even get to a point where it engulfs our every day and we are left feeling inadequate, unworthy, or broken. This is why we need to tackle it head on before that happens, because the way we speak to ourselves is truly what matters the most. We need to be mindful of the language we use when we talk to ourselves because if we’re not careful, those thoughts can manifest into something darker.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t know if I’m going to have full confidence in what I do at every given moment. But what I will tell you is that I do want to avoid the harmful negative thoughts that sometimes creep into my mind. As I grow older, they are becoming less frequent and I think it’s attributed to the few ways I’ve learned to manage the negativity.
Recognize & Release the Inner Judgments
We are human, so it’s obvious we’re going to judge and demean ourselves at one point or another. However, recognize when you are thinking negatively and force yourself to release them from the get-go. Reason being, the more and more you sit with those negative thoughts, it can become a ripple effect and you’ll then begin to believe the thoughts. If you need to do something more active to get your mind off of it, then do it. Go for a walk (it’s amazing what endorphins can do), listen to music, or write the thoughts down and then throw them away. Try to get in the mindset that these are not the thoughts you want to wallow in and instead, spin the negative thoughts to be positive.
In regards to my blog, when I was having all of those negative thoughts, I had to shift my thinking. Otherwise, I was going to be crippled by doubt and fear and maybe never have launched my site. Instead of letting myself think no one was going to read it, I instead thought, “I’m going to put a lot more thought and branding behind this so people do want to read it.” Instead of letting myself think no one was going to like my writing or me, I instead thought, “If people don’t like the blog or don’t like me, then I’ll find those that do.” Thinking about it in a more positive perspective actually ended up giving me more motivation to succeed.
My point here is, don’t play the victim. No matter how bad a situation may be, it can always be worse. You create your life and the way you think, so take responsibility for your thoughts and your subsequent actions. It’s important to remember that you will always have a choice to make change happen and that’s important to remember.
As I still go through the kinks of writing a blog, I’ve come across issues where my page views have dropped for certain periods of time. For bloggers, that can be the most disappointing things to monitor. When I first started noticing, a negative thought swirled in: “Maybe people just really don’t like my content.” It happened for a split second because my next thought was, “How do I get people to my site and how do I keep them engaged once they arrive?” It’s still a work in progress, but I’m researching and implementing strategies to ensure my blog’s page views increase every month. I could have easily just thrown up my hands when I saw my page views dip and given up. But I couldn’t and I didn’t. I took responsibility and found something positive through my initial negative thought. Take that responsibility.
A lot of negative thoughts come into play when we’re comparing and see something we don’t have. It can be an ugly spiral if we let those thoughts consume us, so it’s important to practice gratitude. Being grateful helps us appreciate what we already have. It helps put things into perspective for us to realize how actually blessed we are in other aspects of our life.
When I was first starting my Instagram for Lipstick & Ink, I was sucked into the compare game. I was looking at well-established bloggers who had the perfect aesthetic and crystal clear branding. It unfortunately overwhelmed me to the point where I felt like I had to match exactly what they were doing and began posting everyday to stay relevant. The thing is though, I quickly learned how unrealistic I was being. I couldn’t compare myself to bloggers who did this as their full-time jobs or who had help to make their branding the best it could be. I realized they all had to start somewhere too, so I brought myself back to earth. I practiced gratitude in the fact that I could learn from these other bloggers. I practiced gratitude in that I realized that I had messaging that was different from many of them. I realized I could be different and actually make a difference. I appreciated the fact that I was just starting out and could launch Lipstick & Ink in any way that I wanted to.
Reach Out & Spend Time With Positive People
Sometimes when we’re in a funk, the best way to get out of it to reach out and spend time with family and friends. I think it’s so important to surround ourselves with positive influences in our life. It can be easy to immediately reach out to the person who is also feeling a negative cloud over them (I suppose misery does love company), but I encourage you to seek out the happy, positive people. They’re going to be the ones that aren’t going to let you sit with those negative thoughts. They’re going to be the ones that bring you back to earth and help you realize how truly great of a person you are. They are going to be the ones encouraging you, cheering you on, and making you feel better about yourself.
One of the ways I’ve gotten through difficult times and my own negative thinking has been talking to Adam or calling my mom or one of my closest friends. Sometimes, that can be just the ticket to get you thinking in a different mindset. There’s been so many times where I needed encouragement and reassurance from my loved ones to help me keep my negativity at bay. I got so much positive feedback from my friends especially when I reached out and told them I was starting a blog. It gave me that extra push I needed to stop doubting myself and I truly think it helped me make Lipstick & Ink the best it could be.
Know That It’s Temporary
Whatever you’re going through, know that is temporary. That can help soften the blow a bit if we’re able to take ourselves out of the negativity and realize that. Today may be a horrible day where nothing is going right, but tomorrow is always a new day. The thoughts will pass, unless you really want to hold onto them.
I try to live by this mindset because otherwise, I can really get consumed by my own negativity. If bad thing after bad thing continues to happen to me in a given day, I simply chalk it up as just one of those days and know that the next day will be better. I’m a realist, but also an optimist. Can I be both? Not sure, but I’m making my own rules. Succumbing to my negativity may be what happens one day, but after a night’s sleep, I can wake up and start on a fresh note.
Seek Professional Help
In some cases, these negative thoughts aren’t always temporary. Sometimes, it takes seeing a professional to help us combat our negative thinking. Don’t ever be afraid or ashamed if you feel you need to do this. As mentioned in my lessons learned from therapy, being vulnerable to talk about your struggles and what you want to change can be scary, but it can also be empowering. Believe in yourself that you can change your thoughts, even if you need a little help along the way.
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce and has over 10 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.