Banishing the enemy within: How negative self-talk is robbing you of health and happiness.

by | {Mind}, Mental & Emotional Health, Self -Love | 2 comments

 

A common problem that plagues many women is the issue of “negative self-talk”. Far more than being your own worst critic, negative self-talk – when left unchecked, can be extremely debilitating.

Have you ever allowed yourself to become immobilized because you were worried that you were not good enough, not knowledgeable enough, accomplished enough, or not pretty enough to attain something?

Are your relationships suffering because you constantly assume the worst about the other person, or can’t see how they could possibly like or love YOU?

Are you fearful of moving forward on a decision, pursuing a goal, or announcing a grand plan – because you’re worried about what “they” will think?

Stop.

If you’re one of the MANY sisters who have these types of thoughts, you’re literally torturing yourself from the inside.
While a healthy level of self-assessment is necessary to ensure that we are moving forward with clarity and knowledge, we can often fall into a pattern of self-abuse, inaction, and distorted self-image.

If we allow this pattern to continue over weeks, months, years and decades, our negative self – projections have the potential to literally change the course of our lives. Falling victim to this “enemy within” can circumvent our ability to achieve health, happiness, spiritual connection, intimacy, and our ability to achieve our highest potential.

 

Why Do We Do This to Ourselves?


Although we know that seeking the love and approval of Allah is the best affirmation of our worth that there is, unfortunately many of us have been conditioned from a young age to judge ourselves based on the perceptions, comments, and projections that others have regarding us. And this can often go way back to early childhood.

 

If a parent always tells a child that they are “bad”, then they will have an ingrained belief that they are bad/unworthy. The same applies if a child is only given love and attention if they are deemed “good”, or are performing in a specific way that is defined by others. Just as “Pavlovs Dogs”, they become conditioned to automatically behave in a specific way, in order to receive the perceived “reward”. This ingrained behavior of “seeking” that emotional reward can stay with a person well into adulthood.

Can you relate?

 

The problem with this of course, is that humans are fickle creatures. In many instances, you may be doing the “action” that SHOULD get you the reward (doing for others, being a good friend, being supportive, etc.) – however, it doesn’t come with the expected reward. This can be because each person is different (and some are even broken in some way), and they are not wired to respond with YOUR expected reward. Also, sometimes based on their value system, they may not even think that your action is deserving of reciprocity. So where does that leave you?


This is the danger in attaching one’s self-image and self-worth to the perception and approval of others. Doing so allows you to be pulled back and forth and placed on an emotional roller coaster that is dictated by the whims of someone else. If someone in your life has a bad day and lashes out at you? You’ll end up having a bad MONTH, because you internalized their action as a judgment on your self-worth!

 

Other Influences…

 

There are a ton of other “stimuli” that can cause us to engage in negative self-talk, including:

–>The actions (or INaction) of our husband, which can leave you feeling unloved or worthless.

–> The academic or professional achievements of others, which you feel shines a spotlight on your own lack of achievement.

–> Media (movies, music, magazines) that portray unrealistic and unhealthy expectations.
–> A major life challenge or obstacle, which you feel unequipped to meet.   

–> Hurtful or inconsiderate comments from family members.

–> Constant comparisons to siblings, an ex-wife, or statements that infer if you could “just be more like so and so”, you’d be perfect.

–> Friends who are overly competitive, and seem to love to show you up

–> The whispers of Shaytan, which throw doubt and confusion into your heart

–> Fear of moving forward and risking rejection or ridicule, so you play small – yet beat yourself up about it.

 

 

How to Banish Negative Self –Talk and Build Healthy Self-Esteem

 

If you catch yourself shaking your head to any of the above – it’s time to rewire your inner dialogue, by the permission of Allah.
So, how can you move from a place of constant self-doubt and negative dialogue, to a healthier and self-affirming one? This will vary based on individual circumstances, and is not something that happens overnight. However, it is absolutely possible to redeem and renew your self-worth, Alhamdulillah.

 

Below are a few strategies for banishing that negative inner voice: 

 

Begin With a Sense of Awareness.

 

Understanding how your negative inner dialogue is triggered is very important. What types of comments, people or situations make you feel inept, cause you to engage in comparison, experience feelings of unworthiness? Are the feelings based on real valid information, or is this a projection of fear and insecurity? Ponder those questions.
It’s also critical to gain an awareness and understanding that EVERYONE is dealing with and seeing you through THEIR own personal filter.

 

I love to study psychology and human behavior. Over the years, I’ve seen that when you understand the inner workings of people and their emotional complexities, you can better understand why they behave the way they do. Some people are dealing with their own trauma, lack of self-worth, scarcity mindset, evil intentions, bad upbringing – any number of things. And ALL OF THIS flavors how they interact with people – including you.

 

When you understand all of this, when you become the target of people’s unkind remarks and emotional abuse – instead of letting people trigger you, you can move to a place of actually having sympathy for them.

This is the transition I had to make in my own life…. moving to the space of being an “observer” when someone is acting out and looking at the circumstances and psychology of that person, their struggles, and things that they’ve been through. At that point – you can take things less personal, because it’s not you – it’s THEM. That’s the key to remember. So assess yourself to see if any of the negative energy is deserved, and if not – do not let it become part of your mental narrative.

 

Strive to Please Allah, and He Will Take Care of the Rest

Additionally, it’s important for your self-esteem to come to the firm realization that Allah is the only One Who is perfect, and the ultimate One Whose approval you should seek. It may seem counter-intuitive, but believe me – when you seek Allah’s love and approval over everyone else – HE will bring exactly who, and what you need into your life.

 

It’s human nature that we want to be loved by others, but this has to be in a balanced and healthy way. Allah often restores that balance by taking us through trials. For when you are in the midst of really hard or life-changing situations – you learn that Allah is the ONLY one who can guide and save you, and you turn to Him fully (InshaAllah), as HE – not anyone from His creation, is the only one who can aid you. And this causes us to submit, cleanse our hearts, check our intention and actions, and seek forgiveness.  

 

So when it comes to assessing negative self-talk or external negative feedback, I have a filter through which I process it.

 

When I receive any type of negative feedback (internal or external), I check in with myself and make sure that what I am doing/saying is halal and becoming of a Muslimah, and that my intentions are correct, and that I am living my values. If so, then I’m not as concerned about what people think, and I use that filter to silence any internal negative dialogue.

 

Do things still hurt or sting sometimes? Of course, because we’re human. But when you have the mind frame that your goal is to please Allah above all else, this passes much more quickly.

 

And the interesting thing is that when Allah IS your main focus, you may actually receive MORE criticism, because many people are unfortunately driven by base desires and emotions. So when you choose not to “play in that sandbox”, they can often lash out – because they take your actions as a judgment of THEM, instead of you seeking to preserve or elevate yourself. And this is part of the psychology of human behavior that I mentioned earlier.

 

With all of that said, it is definitely a process to get to that point! And you will likely have to revisit your habit of negative self-dialogue often, before it is fully managed.

 

Also, know that it’s not unusual for new events and circumstances to bring this tendency to the fore again. The best remedy is to return to Allah, and use some of the filters and mental reframes that I mentioned above.

If you’d like even more practical tools to battle negative self-talk and boost self-esteem, register for our in-depth emotional wellness course “The Self{ish} Project”.

 

The course is truly transformational, and has helped more than 400 sisters to date, Alhamdulillah. The Self{ish} Project contains an entire lesson on “banishing negative self-talk”, and a number of other modules that will help to boost self-esteem and empower you to live your best life, InshaAllah.

Details and Registration Here. 

 

MashaAllah, this is a very powerful course. Here’s what one sister had to say after going through the negative self-talk module:

 

“THE SELF{ISH} PROJECT” HELPED ME DITCH NEGATIVE SELF-TALK, BOOST MY SELF-ESTEEM & EMBRACE MY ROLE AS A SERVANT OF ALLAH!”

MashaAllah, I have truly been helped by sister Khadijah’s Self-{ish} Project Alhmdulillaah! The program opened the door for me to reprogram my negative self-talk Alhmdulillaah. I have tried many times before to tackle this issue, but there was a number of reasons that I was not able to be successful: …Read More

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