What Do You Tell Yourself? Self-Sabotage vs. Self-Empowerment

When I was in college, I took a counseling class with a well-respected family counselor. On the first day of class, he said, “Raise your hand if you talk to yourself.” I was one of only a handful of students who actually admitted I do talk to myself.

I expected to be ridiculed or told I needed counseling, but that’s not what happened.

The professor stated that we all talk to ourselves all day long, every day. While only a few of us admit to doing out loud, we ALL do it. He said it’s what say inside our heads that no one else hears that really affects our outlook on life. Often people are guilty of self-sabotage and don’t realize it because they’re not saying the negative things out loud.

For example: Someone offers you a personal introduction to your dream editor, what do you say to yourself? Here are some examples of unhealthy responses.

“What’s the point?”

“Why bother when I know she won’t like my writing?”

“Hope sucks. It never works out.”

“I”m never that lucky.”

“I bet I die before I get to sign the contract.”

“No one else wanted me, why would she?”

“I should just give up before I embarrass myself.”

Sound like anything you’ve ever said about yourself? Or heard someone else say about herself? These are statements we wouldn’t make to friends or our children. Why do we say them to ourselves?

Until my professor pointed it out, I hadn’t realized I’d been guilty of saying those same kinds self-sabotaging statements to myself. So I was interested in his solution. I wanted to know how to cross from self-sabotage–because it royally ticked me off to think I was subconsciously screwing with my chances of achieving my dreams–to self-empowerment.

His suggestions were simple but at the same time took practice. Lots of practice.

When something happens, good or bad, listen to your inner voice. Pay attention. When you hear the negative thoughts, turn them around and make them positive. Instead of “What’s the point,” say to yourself, “This is my chance to show what I can do.” Instead of, “It never works out,” say, “My time is now.”

Again, the answer was so simple and yet…not so easy. So I tried it and I tried it and I tried it again. Then I realized, I wasn’t trying to change my way of thinking, I was changing it  in small increments.

My lesson in self-empowerment was put to the test in March of 1996, one semester after taking his class. I was fired from my  waitressing job just seven days after being hired. Seems like that should have devastated me, right? Nope.

It was the BEST disaster that ever happened. I hated that job. I was miserable there. The management was awful to their employees. The employees hated each other and the customers. But I foolishly thought, I wasn’t qualified for more than waitressing because I’d only ever been a waitress outside the confines of a college campus.

Here’s what happened. I told myself I would not be defeated. I lived on my own. I had no other income. Unless I wanted to be homeless and I needed to find a job. But I wanted more from life. And damn it, this time, I was going to find more. No matter what.

Not only did I find a better job, my new boss put me on a path to the career I had for years. I’d done it! I’d crossed over from self-sabotage thinking to self-empowerment thinking.

Tell yourself you’ll fail and you will.

Tell yourself you’ll succeed and you will. Maybe not right away. Maybe the success will be slow and trickle in, but keeping tell yourself you’ll get there and you will.

So what are you saying to yourself today?

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4 Responses to What Do You Tell Yourself? Self-Sabotage vs. Self-Empowerment

  1. Selena says:

    What a fantastic post, Mary! It is definitely something we must all work at, some days more than others.

  2. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said all those self-sabotaging things out loud. It’s hard to stop it and change your whole attitude and outlook, but I’ve been working on it. Sometimes it takes a few great friends who’ve been there to give you a quick kick in the butt. Thanks, Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Lis,

      You’re right. It’s hard to stop but mostly because it’s a habit. Still, habits can be changed. You’ve three published books. If you can do that, you deserve to be kinder to yourself.

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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