Change Your Self-Talk to Improve Your Self-Image

Do you have a positive or negative self-image? Do you basically feel good about yourself or do you worry that you aren’t good enough? Everyone’s self-image changes somewhat depending on circumstances, but when you feel bad about yourself in many areas of life and these feelings become persistent, then your negative self-image can impact your physical and mental health. In this article we’ll explore that impact and ways to achieve a more positive self-image.

The health benefits of a having a positive self-image are many. Those with a positive self-image are more likely to manage stress better and to be more resilient when facing challenges, disappointments, or illnesses. Those with a positive self-image are generally more assertive and they enjoy strong relationships.

Low self-image often leads to stress and, at times, depression and anxiety disorders. The negative emotions that come with low self-image weaken the immune system and increase the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. Low self-image is also associated with addictive behaviors, such as alcoholism, smoking, drug addiction, and gambling.

Negative self-image can affect individuals regardless of age, ethnicity, sex, or socioeconomic status. While the picture of a person with low self-image can vary greatly, from a shrinking wall-flower to a highly competitive workaholic, the common denominator is that a person with a low self-image is extremely self-critical.

Your own thoughts – what you tell yourself in your self-talk, your interpretation of situations, and your beliefs about yourself and others – probably have the biggest impact on your self-image. It is important to realize that your thoughts are within your control and that you can change them. If you tend to focus on your weaknesses or flaws, you can learn to re-frame negative thoughts and focus instead on your positive qualities.

If your self-talk is habitually self-critical, it will take some practice to change. When you notice that you are having a self-critical thought, consider if you can replace strong negative words with more neutral or positive words. If your inner critic has a favorite critical name for you, see if you can turn it around to something more positive. Instead of calling yourself wishy-washy, substitute open-minded or flexible; instead of sloppy, substitute relaxed; instead of too noisy, substitute energetic and outgoing. And, instead of saying that you hate something about yourself, see if you can replace “hate” with “don’t like” or “I’m ready to change.”

Don’t confuse positive self-talk with self-delusion or mindless positive thinking. Draw the distinction between what is true and what is negative. Recognize self-sabotaging messages and replace them with more rational and positive self-talk.

Be a friend to yourself and speak to yourself as kindly as you would speak to a friend or loved one. Affirm your strengths and acknowledge your efforts rather than punishing yourself with negative self-talk. Use your inner voice to reassure yourself.

How you feel about yourself affects every aspect of your life. Change your negative self-talk into positive affirmations of your worth to improve your self-image and the quality and quantity of your life.

Gift Yourself with Daily Inspirational Quotes

Would you like to start your day on a positive note? Consider reading an inspirational quote and gifting yourself with some inspiration before you get launched into your busy day. Reduce your stress and increase your happiness by introducing some positivity into your life right from the beginning of the day!

On a daily basis, we are all exposed to negative and fear-based messages. Most of us are strongly influenced by this negativity and the greatest struggle we have is maintaining our commitment, motivation, and persistence. We may have a vision that motivates us for a while but often, before we know it, our vision is a vague memory.

How can we keep ourselves motivated and on-track? Words can be powerful motivators. Inspirational quotes by known or relatively unknown writers, thinkers, heroes, and leaders can be the spark that re-ignites our vision.

Daily inspirational quotes can inspire, inform, motivate, encourage, nourish, entertain, validate, and at times, challenge us. While some quotes are religious in nature, many are not. The best quotes will have us considering their underlying meaning and how this meaning relates to our own lives and values.  In many cases, quotes will inspire us to action.

Inspirational quotes can introduce a daily dose of positivity into our lives. Our thoughts, both negative and positive, influence our actions. When we dwell on negative thoughts, these thoughts usually generate uncomfortable feelings and emotions. It can be hard, if not impossible, to maintain motivation in the face of negativity and self-criticism.

When you read an inspirational quote that touches you, you start to think and feel more positively. When you have a positive attitude, your mind begins to access the resources of the right brain – the creative, intuitive, and non-linear part of the mind. When you feel more positive, you may often find that you approach everything with a new perspective and that you are able to generate new solutions to problems.

One of the biggest values of daily inspirational quotes, I believe, is that they offer a single, isolated idea to contemplate. Quotation collections are fine but sometimes overwhelming because they offer too much to consider all at once.

Because the range of quotes is so broad, people have different preferences and resonate with some quotes more than others. Some prefer quotes that focus on a specific topic, such as success, motivation or inspiration, while others prefer a variety of topics. When you’re starting a practice of reading daily inspirational quotes, it is a good idea to identify what you would like the quotes to help you accomplish and what kind of quotes appeal to you most. If you like quotes by women, consider subscribing to a Moment of Inspiration by the Friend Yourself Project.

Begin your practice of reading daily quotes and introduce some inspiration and positivity into your life!

 

3 Ways to Become a More Optimistic Person

Are you a pessimist? Do you have a tendency to expect the worst to happen? Although a pessimistic attitude may seem to be an unchangeable character trait, one, in fact, can make a choice between pessimism and optimism. There are practical self-improvement techniques to make it easier to develop a positive attitude and undo lifelong habits of pessimism. This article will present three ways to help you become more optimistic.

Optimists have an outlook on life that is generally more positive and they know and value hope. Studies show that pessimists give up more easily and get depressed more often. Optimists, on the other hand, have superior stress management skills and do better in school and at work. Evidence suggests that optimists may even live longer. These are compelling reasons to become more optimistic!

One way to help convert from pessimism to optimism is to practice looking for the silver lining in problems. Optimists tend to look for the positives in situations that don’t work out while pessimists use those same situations to reinforce their expectations of failure. Do you have a tendency to magnify the negative aspects of a situation and overlook any positive ones? Rather than automatically focusing on the worst, take a second look to see if there are any positive aspects in a difficult situation.

Don’t wait for a problem to happen but start now to get into the habit of seeing positives in every situation. Additionally, make an effort to create some experiences of happiness. Brief, happy moments can help strengthen your sense that life can be good and you can draw on these feelings in more difficult times.

A second way to create more optimism is to review your past accomplishments. Identify your top five personal and work-related accomplishments and the strengths you used to achieve them. Use this review to affirm for yourself that you are capable and competent. Apply the confidence gained from reviewing your strengths and accomplishments to increase your optimism in your capabilities to impact the future.

A third way to increase optimism is to watch your language! The words we use help to create and shape our reality. Avoid negative self-talk – stop using phrases such as “I can’t” and “This will never work.” Challenge your negative self-talk and turn these statements into questions such as “How can I handle this?” and “What can I do?’. Not only are these questions more hopeful, they invite new options and possibilities.

Pay special attention to how you talk to yourself and make a concentrated effort to treat yourself as well as you would treat a friend or loved one. Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. When a negative thought enters your mind, turn it around to something to something more positive.

In conclusion, there are specific techniques you can use to convert from a pessimistic attitude to a more optimistic one. These techniques include highlighting the positive; using your past accomplishments and strengths to fuel your optimism in the future; and deliberately replacing negative self-talk with more positive messages.

As with changing any habit, it may take practice to defeat pessimism but your self-development efforts will prove worthwhile as you gain the positive health and social benefits of optimism.

When Life Doesn’t Match Your Expectations

Is your life humming along the way you think it should? If not, are you blaming yourself for this departure from what you think your life should look like? Is this self-blame creating even more stress for you? Here are some stress management techniques to help you establish a new relationship to your expectations.

There are times when life unfolds almost miraculously exactly the way we would like. More often, though, life does not follow our blueprint. When life doesn’t match our expectations, we often feel disappointed and we may feel like we have failed. We may spend so much time trying to resolve why our present doesn’t resemble our imagined future that we fail to notice the rightness and blessings of our very real present. Count your blessings – notice your life as it is, rather than how you imagine it should be. What can you be grateful for this very minute?

Allow yourself to be delighted – rather than annoyed – by surprises that happen to you and that disrupt what you see as your perfect plan. Approach these surprises with curiosity, wondering where they lead. Recall a time in your past when a surprise led to a much better outcome than you could have planned or envisioned.

It is easier to adjust to changes if you maintain an optimistic attitude, a belief that your life is unfolding perfectly and that your experiences are helping you stretch and grow as a person. You might even admit that your imagined ideal way is safe and comfortable and would allow less room for personal growth. Look back on your life at those times when you were challenged in a way that you would not have chosen for yourself. From your vantage point now, would you give up the wisdom you have gained, despite the costs to you?

If you wish your life were different, ask yourself what will it take to change it? Are you committed to complaining or committed to action? Are you using “I don’t know how” as an excuse to maintain the status quo? What needs to happen to move you closer to a life that you love even more?

Being willing to take action will infuse your life with interest, passion, and vitality. Action will bring new options and will open possibilities that may have been unavailable until initial action is taken. Think of your life as a puzzle and each time you take action, you are given a new puzzle piece. Many action steps will give you more puzzle pieces and gradually, your picture will become clearer and more identifiable.

Be especially gentle and kind to yourself when your life is not following your expectations. Release any harsh judgments that you should be able to control each and every outcome. Be a friend to yourself and remember your self-care. Congratulate yourself on your efforts and consider your life a great adventure rather than a life measured solely by defined, planned, and possibly limited, outcomes.

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As a personal and spiritual coach, Georgiana Carollus has a keen interest in inspiring people to recognize their brilliance and to treat themselves as well as they treat their friends and loved ones. She offers resources and coaching to help people establish a more caring and supportive relationship with themselves at www.FriendYourselfProject.com. Visit and subscribe to a free Daily Moment of Inspiration!

Counteract Negativity with Gratitude

Are you having trouble coping with any of life’s difficult, stressful, and negative experiences? Noticing something for which you are grateful can effectively counteract negative emotions. Studies have shown that a conscious focus on your blessings can have an immediate emotional benefit and can help reduce your feelings of stress.

What are you grateful for? If nothing comes to mind, it is time to refocus your attention. Even the most beautiful sight can be taken for granted when you see it every day, just as the blessings of good health, close relationships, and comfortable shelter commonly go unnoticed and under-appreciated.

Researchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of Miami conducted a study and found that a control group that was instructed to notice experiences of gratitude as they were happening and to make a list of these, was 25% happier than a group that was instructed to pay attention to daily annoyances and another group that only recorded neutral life events. The gratitude group also reported more optimism than the other two groups in the study. (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, “Counting Blessings versus Burdens,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, no. 2 (2003), pp. 377-389.)

Take a few moments to look at your life with fresh eyes and identify what you have to be grateful for. Instead of just making a list, allow yourself to feel gratitude for each of these blessings. Feeling gratitude allows us to tap into deeper and more sustainable ways of experiencing fulfillment. When we are grateful for what we already have, we banish disappointment and move into a space of contentment.

As part of your gratitude practice, be sure to friend yourself and express gratitude to yourself for your efforts, traits, talents, and accomplishments. Strengthen the bonds with those in your life by moving beyond your inward feelings of gratitude and by verbally expressing gratitude to them.

Start today to establish an attitude and practice of gratitude. Employ gratitude to reduce stress and to be a better friend to yourself and to others.

Breathe Out Your Stress!

Review how you’re feeling at this moment – are your muscles tense? Are you feeling stressed? Is feeling tense and stressed the norm for you? Would you like to feel more relaxed?

A greater sense of relaxation is only a breath away. Working with the breath is an ancient and very accessible stress management and self-care technique. Taking a deep, cleansing breath lowers blood pressure and pulse and respiration rates. Additionally, it helps promote the release of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, into the bloodstream. Many benefits for something that takes hardly a minute!

To get the most of these benefits, diaphragmatic or belly breathing is key. To identify whether you are breathing high up in your chest or in your belly, place one hand on your chest and another hand on your stomach.  As you breathe normally, notice which palm is moving.  If you notice movement in both hands or more movement in the hand on your chest, you need to move your breath lower.

To breathe more from your abdomen, imagine that you have a balloon in your stomach and as you exhale, you are forcing all the air out of that balloon. Once you exhale all that air, your next breath will automatically be a diaphragmatic breath.

Do a few of these deep breaths. See if you can establish a pace that is deep, relaxed, and satisfying. How does it make you feel?

Establish a practice of incorporating diaphragmatic breathing into your day. Notice quiet times during your day, such as while you are waiting at a red light or have been put on hold during a call, to do this. And, the next time you notice you’re feeling stressed, use a few diaphragmatic breaths to change your body chemistry and invite feelings of calm and relaxation.

Diaphragmatic breathing – a simple way to friend yourself!

 

Join the Friend Yourself Project and commit to treating yourself as well as you treat your friends and loved ones. Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com for more information.

 

Are You Trying Too Hard to be Happy?

Do you hold yourself to a measure of happiness that you think you need to obtain and maintain? How is that working for you? Do you become angry and judgmental about yourself when you aren’t able to maintain the level of happiness you think you should have?

What if you no longer equated unhappiness and failure?

Maintaining a happiness high is unrealistic. And, as long as we judge our emotions as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, we are refusing to embrace all the aspects and parts of ourselves that make up our wholeness.

All feelings, including happiness, sadness, anger, fear, joy, grief – every feeling! – is impermanent. Every feeling is there so we can experience life to the fullest.

As humans, we want to embrace and enjoy those feelings that make us feel good and we tend to avoid those feelings that make us feel bad. We push away those bad feelings and try to escape them as soon as possible. But – as the saying goes, what we resist, persists.

I have found that if I stay with the feelings that make me uncomfortable, they transform and release. In much less time than I expect, they release their grip on me. If, however, I try to ignore those feelings, they hold a grip on me that I can’t shake. It is only by facing them that these feelings transform.

Imagine loving every feeling because it adds to the richness of your life. And imagine, loving yourself for your ability to have and experience all of your feelings.

Join the Friend Yourself Project and commit to treating yourself as well as your friends and loved ones. Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com for more information.

Acknowledge Your Accomplishments!

Do you find it’s easier to notice other people’s successes than it is to acknowledge your own? Do you even acknowledge your accomplishments before you raise the bar even higher for yourself and set another goal to achieve?

Why is it that we don’t acknowledge our successes? Having created thousands of resumes for clients from all walks of life, I’m very familiar with the difficulty that people have in identifying not only their accomplishments but their strengths. Some of this may come from an upbringing where bragging was discouraged, but I think it also goes to our belief that our achievements pale in comparison to those of others. From the perspective of an impartial bystander, this is rarely the case

People are so caught up in their lives that they don’t notice their own courage, bravery, and kindness. Part of the problem, I think, is that our society does not encourage us to stop and take stock of what we have achieved. In the work world, the resume can fulfill this function but there are many other, and usually more important, personal successes that will never be featured on a resume.

I would encourage you to create a This Is My Life resume. Categories you may consider including would be Challenges, Triumphs, Enjoyments, and Attributes. Do an inventory of your large and small successes. Identify those things that you feel good about either starting or finishing. Don’t measure your successes against those of anyone else. This is only for you. This is your chance to review what you have done and to acknowledge your efforts and successes

Are you finding it difficult? If so, look at yourself with the same perspective that a friend would have about you. What have others complimented you on or praised you for? When did you notice yourself brushing aside compliments or claiming what you did was nothing special? Allow yourself to own those things. Create your This Is My Life resume and give yourself a pat on the back for your accomplishments!

As an example, here’s my This is My Life resume

GEORGIANA

INSPIRATIONAL MOTIVATOR

Creative and intuitive individual with passion for my own self-development and for inspiring other people to recognize their brilliance. Committed to nurturing family and personal relationships. Resourceful out-of-the-box thinker with entrepreneurial spirit; talent for suggesting resources and formulating new solutions to personal and professional problems. Value-centered; compassionate, empathetic, and caring.

ATTRIBUTES

Creative · Optimistic · Intuitive · Compassionate · Determined · Curious · Committed · Motivated · Idea Generator · Flexible · Self-Directed · Enthusiastic

TRIUMPHS

  • Nurture personal and family relationships; value healthy work/life balance and time to enjoy fun/creativity.
  • Pursue self-development; established morning meditation practice and actively cultivate my intuition and spiritual life.
  • Extend myself beyond my shy, introverted tendencies.
  • Published 2 books of quotes by women in both Kindle and print formats; over 7,000 Kindle downloads!
  • Left full-time employment and started own businesses; met challenges of self-employment and reinvented businesses to meet changing markets.
  • As single parent, raised two great children to adulthood.
  • In early married life, navigated 5 major moves across country within 8 years.
  • First person in my family to graduate from college and earn Master’s degree.

ENJOYMENTS

  • Love of the arts, including live musical and theatrical performances and quilts and quilting.
  • Family reunions.
  • Every vacation with Dennis.
  • Annual birthday retreats with friends, Molly and Kathleen.
  • My grandson, Colin’s birth, and my other two grandchildren, Brandon and Natalie.
  • The birth of my own two children.

LIFE CHALLENGES

  • Job changes and losses that were outside of my control.
  • Divorce, 1990.
  • Deaths of parents and older brother.
  • Closing of human potential company I strongly believed in; closing resulted in job loss and disbanding of close personal network.

Join the Friend Yourself Project and commit to treating yourself as well as your friends and loved ones. Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com for more information.

©Georgiana Carollus, 2012. All rights reserved

Create a This Is My Life Resume!

Do you find it difficult to acknowledge your own accomplishments? Having created thousands of resumes for clients from all walks of life, I’m very familiar with the difficulty that people have in identifying not only their accomplishments but their strengths. I also know that it is very affirming for someone when they see their strengths written out. Clients often tell me how impressed with themselves they are after reading their new resume.

I began to wonder what a resume of someone’s life, rather than only their career, would look like. How helpful would a concise synopsis of one’s challenges and triumphs be? Would such an exercise help us gain a new respect for ourselves?

I took up the challenge and created one for myself. I found it much easier (and more fun!) than some life timelines I had worked on in the past. I also liked the positive emphasis of focusing on my strengths rather than my weaknesses.

I would encourage you to try this exercise yourself. If you would like a simple Word template, contact me below and I’ll send you one as well as some tips to create your own This Is My Life Resume. If you would like my help, let me know that and I will send you information about my fees.

Here’s mine:

GEORGIANA

INSPIRATIONAL MOTIVATOR

Creative and intuitive individual with passion for my own self-development and for inspiring other people to recognize their brilliance. Committed to nurturing family and personal relationships. Resourceful out-of-the-box thinker with entrepreneurial spirit; talent for suggesting resources and formulating new solutions to personal and professional problems. Value-centered; compassionate, empathetic, and caring.

ATTRIBUTES

Creative · Optimistic · Intuitive · Compassionate · Determined · Curious · Committed · Motivated · Idea Generator · Flexible · Self-Directed · Enthusiastic

TRIUMPHS

  • Nurture personal and family relationships; value healthy work/life balance and time to enjoy fun/creativity.
  • Pursue self-development; established morning meditation practice and actively cultivate my intuition and spiritual life.
  • Extend myself beyond my shy, introverted tendencies.
  • Published 2 books of quotes by women in both Kindle and print formats; over 7,000 Kindle downloads!
  • Left full-time employment and started own businesses; met challenges of self-employment and  reinvented businesses to meet changing markets.
  • As single parent, raised two great children to adulthood.
  • In early married life, navigated 5 major moves across country within 8 years.
  • First person in my family to graduate from college and earn Master’s degree.

ENJOYMENTS

  • Love of the arts, including  live musical and theatrical performances and quilts and quilting.
  • Family reunions.
  • Every vacation with Dennis.
  • Annual birthday retreats with friends, Molly and Katleen.
  • My grandson, Colin’s birth, and my other two grandchildren, Brandon and Natalie.
  • The birth of my own two children.

LIFE CHALLENGES

  • Job changes and losses that were outside of my control.
  • Divorce, 1990.
  • Deaths of parents and older brother.
  • Closing of human potential company I strongly believed in; closing resulted in job loss and disbanding of close personal network.

©2012. All rights reserved.

 

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