If you’re looking to make some changes in 2017 and already find yourself struggling with goals you’ve set — it may be time to reevaluate your internal communication.
“The way we talk to ourselves and the messages we repeat can either open us up to take healthy risks and expand our life experiences, or limit our risk taking and ability to grow,” said Lisa Ferentz, a Baltimore, Maryland, clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and author of the new book, “Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons from the Therapist’s Couch.”
Successful people know that asking for assistance and encouragement is a sign of strength — not weakness.
“It impacts the extent to which we can be self-protective, seek out and sustain meaningful intimate relationships, be a nurturing and available parent, trust our own instincts, and have the confidence and self-esteem we need to succeed in life. Most of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors flow from those internal messages,” she told LifeZette.
How we feel about ourselves is often connected to the messages we received and continue to receive from important people in our lives. Most of us never challenge or reevaluate those messages, said Ferentz — we just accept them as core truths. So if we grew up being told we weren’t “good enough,” or were exposed to a lot of criticism and harsh judgment, it’s likely we will continue to talk to ourselves in the same belittling ways.
Journaling can help people identify negative thoughts and create the opportunity to replace them with more positive and compassionate ones. “When we journal, either in response to specific questions and prompts or just write in a free-form way, we start to see the patterns of our self-talk, whether it’s optimistic and forgiving, or shaming, critical, or judgmental,” Ferentz added.
The more we write positive messages to ourselves, she said, the more we can integrate them into our internal monologue.
Five other things Ferentz said successful people do or say to themselves to reach their goals:
1.) Make the resolution or goal doable.
Successful people understand that a small, manageable goal is easier to achieve than broad and far-reaching goals. And when a small goal is realized, it becomes the building block for other goals to follow.
2.) Let go of the need to achieve the goal “perfectly.”
Successful people give themselves credit for even partially realizing a goal. They understand their efforts count and they can be proud of any success, even a small one. Rather than focusing on what they haven’t accomplished, they focus on what they have achieved.
3.) Give themselves permission to enlist help and support from others.
Successful people know that asking for assistance and encouragement is a sign of strength — not weakness. They feel worthy of support and seek it from people who they know will be accommodating. They never think an achievement is minimized or diminished if it is accomplished with the help of others.
4.) Make resolutions for themselves and not other people.
They understand true change requires personal buy-in. So their goals are honest representations of what they want and need, not what someone else is telling them to do or change. They have enough self-awareness and self-confidence to work toward goals they will personally benefit from — and can let go of trying to please or appease other people.
5.) Believe in their ability to realize their goals or resolutions.
They don’t see temporary setbacks as opportunities to “beat themselves up” or evidence they “aren’t good enough.” When they stumble, they can pick themselves up with words of comfort and encouragement — then try again.