When I was 15, my parents divorced and my mother moved 2,000 miles away for a new job.
For the first nine months after the divorce, I did not cry.
In fact, I did not think about the divorce at all until my sister said, “Dad thinks you’re furious.”
Her words shocked me. As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t upset at all. I even prided myself on my stoic nature.
The only time I came close to breaking down was when my mother phoned and said in her most gentle voice, “Dear, why won’t you call me?”
Three years later, I found myself flipping through a book on self-esteem.
I finally let in a thought I had been avoiding since the divorce: “I’m not feeling very good about myself right now.”
Once I let that thought in, the floodgates opened.
Suddenly I realized just how many negative thoughts I was having about myself.
These thoughts were quite alarming. I was a nice, compassionate girl. Why was I consumed with negative self-talk?
I made an appointment for counseling.
There I finally touched my true feelings about the divorce.
When the tears finally came, my sadness was so great I feared my chest would split open.
That day I learned that negative self-talk is just a symptom – a symptom that we’re stuffing down fear, loss, failure, or rejection over a life problem of some kind.
When we avoid a problem and the fears that come along with it, negative self-talk and low confidence is never far behind.
If you watch yourself carefully, you’ll notice that negative self-talk happens when you’re agitated about a relationship, career, or money disappointment but you are denying the depth of your emotional reaction.
Instead of dealing with your problem and how you FEEL about it, you’re plugging along, hoping your negative self-talk, anxiety, or low confidence goes away on its own.
In the words of self-esteem author Dr. Nathaniel Branden, “Your mind is your basic tool for survival. Betray it and your self-esteem always suffers.”
What Branden means is that when we betray our mind by ignoring a problem, what we’re also betraying ourselves. We’re not adapting to the situation, and so our self-esteem and confidence necessarily go down.
Negative self-talk is just a symptom of this phenomenon, which is why if you try and pep talk yourself out the ‘demons’ in your head, it rarely works. The only way out of negative self-talk is to face our problem, including the inner chaos it is creating, and to start adapting.
Fortunately I’ve created online training designed to help you create breakthrough confidence and self-esteem using concepts just like this one.
In this training, you learn how to dramatically increase your self-acceptance so you can develop the confident inner game you need to succeed now.
No matter which way the wind blows, you will be able to stay steady.
Lisa Brown is the founder of the Courage to Win and is considered the world's leading expert on deep mental toughness for success in career, love, and sport. She has personally coached over 7,200 achievers to new heights and conducted over 1,300 live seminars on mental toughness across North America. She has been featured by major media including the New York Times and Entrepreneur Magazine, who called the Courage to Win “a straight-forward guide to success, highly recommended.”