Here’s How To Help Someone You Love Shift Their Negative Self-Talk

Here’s How To Help Someone You Love Shift Their Negative Self-Talk

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I’ll never forget the way my dad looked at me when he said: You have so much to be proud of. I wish you could see it.

My heart breaks every time I hear someone I love put themselves down. But I get it. I was once that person, too. The person who didn’t believe she was enough as is. The person who thought her body, her voice, her MIND itself needed a major overhaul.

That moment with my dad, on a family vacation in my late teens, has stuck with me for almost two decades now. I could see his love, his belief in me…and his pain knowing that he couldn’t just say a magic words and fix my self-image right then and there.

I still struggle sometimes — probably way more than I’d like to admit — but I have tools now that I didn’t have back then. And because I’ve been in such a deep self-loathing, self-doubting spiral, I’m able to recognize it quicker in others. Mainly, the people I love most.

And I feel those same feelings my dad must have felt when he looked at me.

I wish I could just say a magic word and fix it all right then and there. But I know I can’t.

But now that I’ve got hindsight on my side, I now know what helped me most when it came to the impact others had on me: how they spoke rubbing off on how I thought.

~

Your self-talk is like a language. And just like learning any language, it’s easy to become fluent in whatever you’re surrounded by and exposed to.

Not sure of the neuroscience here, but I know from my own experience that I learn best not when someone tells me what to do, but when someone shows me what to do. So I’m not surprised at all that while people telling me to “stop being so hard on yourself” didn’t move the needle much, hearing and watching them model healthy self-confidence and self-concept was incredibly helpful.

Someone you love struggling with negative self-talk? Here are some ways to help them become fluent in a more positive, proactive language…without just telling them to “stop being a dick to yourself.”


5 WAYS TO HELP SOMEONE SHIFT THEIR NEGATIVE SELF-TALK:


1. Be mindful of universal quantifiers: all, none, never, always, no one, everyone, etc.

Universal quantifiers are words that make a global statement with no exceptions. Not to say these words don’t have their place! Just be mindful and aware of when/how you use them, since their misuse can contribute to the kind of binary thinking (wrong vs. right) that can make someone believe there is one way to do life. Everybody is different (see what I did there?).

2. Ask if someone wants your ear, or wants your answers.
Even if you have the best intentions, sometimes people don’t need them, and just want a shoulder to lean on. before you jump into “here’s what I think,” ask your friend what they need from you in the moment so they feel valued and heard.

Bonus: if they want answers, try asking them questions instead. allowing your friend to come to their own conclusions helps them not only develop their critical thinking skills, but gain self-trust (vs. looking outside themselves for the answers).

3. Give specific compliments without strings attached — and give them often.
Have you ever noticed that you save your compliments for big occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or milestones? People need to know they’re loved, liked, respected, or admired on the regular, ordinary days, too.

Don’t go and “love bomb” people — which is “an attempt to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection” (Wikipedia). But make a point to give compliments when they pop into your brain. You never know who’s struggling to see themselves in a kinder light.

4. Bond over what you love, what you want to celebrate, or what you’re working toward.
It’s super easy to bond over negativity — and it’s effective, too! Studies have shown that strong bonds are formed when we talk about what we loathe. We’re connecting…but at what cost?

When problems arise or you just need to vent, go for it. But if you’re searching for conversation topics and tend to lean on gossip or complaints, try adding questions like “what are you excited about today?” or “what’s something you’re really loving lately?” into the mix. These small conversation starters can help spark proactive dialogue and positive connection.

5. Speak about yourself the way you would want your best friends to think about themselves.
We learn from example and take cues from one another. If you want someone you love to have a better self-image and more positive self-talk, show them how it’s done.

Be unafraid to share your wins and proud moments, no matter how big or small, with your loved ones. make sure you share in a genuine way that’s not seeking validation or recognition, and instead creates a space in which it’s not only normal, but encouraged, to celebrate exactly who you are. Lead with your own self-love. Side note: you’ll benefit just as much as they do :)

 

 

WANT YOURSELF:
Which of these tips do you think you can implement right away in your conversations? Which do you see being the most useful?

Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

Mental Health Toolkit: How To Balance Self-Care and Community Care.

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

I just got home from a trip to LA where I got to see my family — parents, brother, sister-in-law, nephew, grandparents, aunts, uncles….some of whom I hadn’t seen for over two years (which is very out of the ordinary for me).

My grandparents, who are thriving in their 80th decade, were an especially special visit. They’re a part of the WANT community, too. You might even be reading this right now because they sent you a link to sign up. They’re definitely reading this right now (hi, Nana and Papa Ronny!).

As some of WANT’s biggest superfans, they always love asking about not only my work, but about YOU.

They can’t believe how many amazing human beings I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, virtually or IRL, because of WANT. They want to know how we find each other, how we know each other, where you’re from, what it is you love, everything.

It’s pretty incredible that we’re able to talk the ins and outs of a career and community that primarily exist in the digital space without missing a beat. (My grandfather was actually the very first person to introduce me to The Internet back in 1990/91 — any of my ’80s-millennials-and-older remember Prodigy?!) They understand what I do, they understand how we connect…

…and, they understand the immense amount of energy it takes to be your own boss, publicist, creative director, editor, assistant, and team.

(kidding with this one. kinda. while i love and honor my weekends most of the time, i also sometimes get into habits of working too often during them and end up feeling very much like this.)

 

A few months back, I shared with you a post I wrote about creating a Joy Tab — a list of things to help you turn the focus back on your self after being others-focused for so long.

When I shared it, I got so many of you sending emails to me, echoing what I’d expressed in my post: I’d been so caught up in trying to be of service to others over the last few months, that the only “self-care” I was doing was the stuff that would just keep me afloat.

Sleep. Water. Movement. Food.

I, and you, needed to get back in touch with what was needed on a solo level.

Fast forward a few months, and I found myself in the exact opposite position.

I had gotten so self-focused that I felt disconnected from others.

On a personal level, I leaned so heavily into self-care that I began to fear the absence of it (a faint echo of the old disordered tendencies of my 20s, ones I do NOT want to ever go back to).

On the professional level, I felt such intense anxiety (as the one building, navigating, and steering her own ship) that I’d spend my days spiraling about work I was stressed about, spend my nights staying up mega-late finishing the work I spent the day stressing about, and wake up completely wiped the next day.

And the cycle would repeat.

What I realized is that this time around, I didn’t need a Joy Tab to help me focus on myself. I needed a Connection Tab to help me focus back on others.

Because here’s the thing:

As humans, we aren’t meant to be fully self- or others-focused.

You can tell just by practicing a fake conversation with yourself: imagine talking to someone and all you say is “I, me, mine, my”…..or, on the flipside, you deflect any question about yourself and only say “you, yours, they, theirs.”

It feels icky, right?

That’s because when you only focus on ONE, you either create distance between you and others, or between you and your SELF.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while I believe it’s an important conversation at ALL times, it’s particularly important this month of this year, when we’re actively creating a new normal that’s ACTUALLY new…instead of the old patterns that weren’t working in the first place.

A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We must practice self-care and community care.

And so, as a Mental Health Awareness Month gift, I created a free SELF-CARE + COMMUNITY CARE (or JOY TAB + CONNECTION TAB) Toolkit just for you. Click here to download it.

One last thing about my time with my grandparents.

During the course of our lunch together last Wednesday, during a trip in which I was so thrilled to put my self-focus on pause for a few days and soak in some community-focused time, my grandfather asked me a question: How do you decide to write the things you write, and speak about the things you speak about? (my Papa Ronny is the master of open-ended questions.)

I laughed as I told him: 

“I wish I had a more exciting answer to give you, but the truth is, it’s just how my chatty, highly sensitive brain works.”

A few days later, upon reflection, I now think that’s just one part of the answer.

Yes, my brain is always going a mile a minute and always has this “Clarissa Explains It All”-style monologue going on (with the volume all the way up).

But the other part of the equation is YOU. 

I don’t believe I am alone.
I don’t believe any of us are.

Maybe I’m the one with this specific platform and this specific voice, but my experiences are NOT unique. 

I know this because of talking to you. Reading YOUR posts on social media. Emailing YOUR inbox and DMing back and forth on YOUR platforms. Learning from YOUR words. What my chatty, highly sensitive brain tells me is so similar in many ways to what your chatty, highly sensitive brain tells you.

But/and, different.

And THAT is why we should not, cannot, and MUST not ever be 100% self-focused or 100% others-focused, and why we must create systems and strategies for ourselves to regain a unique-to-us balance of the two when we lean too far in one direction or the other.

Because both focuses have important lessons to teach us, questions to ask us, and ways to relate. We will not find every answer we need in others. And, contrary to a lot of pop culture self-helpy advice, we will not find every answer we need in ourselves either.

The key is curiosity.

Sometimes we need to get curious about ourselves; sometimes we need to get curious about others.

But make no mistake: there is gold both inside and outside us all.

Holding Onto Keys.

Holding Onto Keys.

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Two weeks ago, I finally turned in the keys to our old studio apartment. Keys I should have turned in weeks ago. We had a month’s worth of a lease overlap and so I held on because…well, because.

Because I have a tough time letting go.

Because I struggle moving on from things that are great.

Because I thought maybe if I could hold on a little longer I could preserve all the goodness that was brought to life in those minimal square feet. As if that goodness was fleeting.

For those new here: my husband, pup and I spent all of 2020 in a 470 sq ft box in the Manhattan sky (aka studio apartment). And then two years before that. I was so skeptical this would work and thought it would be a relationship disaster. But Jeremy insisted, and he’s got a great track record (he’d found our last two apartments before this, both of which I adored), so I figured I’d humor him and stick it out a year.

But joke’s on me, because not only did it become my favorite apartment I’ve ever lived in, but it was the place our relationship has grown/thrived the most. And that’s mostly because it’s where WE have grown/thrived the most.

And I think that by holding onto the keys, I’ve been harboring some fear that maybe we’ll go backwards.

This has shown up in other aspects of my life, too. Avoiding anywhere that requires a substantial subway trip, out of fear I’ll get back into a routine of over-scheduling myself. Staying

What I’ve learned I need to learn, over and over and over again, is that stories don’t end just because a chapter’s been read.

Stories don't end just because a chapter's been read. Click To Tweet

Every event I’m going to be doing for quite some time will be centered, in some way, around creating YOUR New Normal. A New Normal that isn’t just soul-filling, but actually sustainable. Moving forward into it fearlessly, with your fear less than your faith. Where you’re not clinging desperately to what was out of fear of what could be.

There is no “back to normal” because there is no “back to” anything.

It’s all about creating what’s next, and next, and next. As the saying goes, “Anything that’s meant to be yours cannot be taken away.” And also, as the saying goes, “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”

As for our apartment? We’ve got 1 year in this new home of ours, then onto (hopefully) a more long-term place to nest. I’m beginning to embrace the idea that all the transformation that’s transpired for me over the last year-plus is now a part of me. My surroundings might change, my days might look different, but what’s mine is mine for keeps.

And, there’s so much good ahead.

I don’t want to spend this next year so busy longing for a chapter I’ve already read that I miss the one unfolding in front of me right now.

And so. Onward


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The Joy Tab.

The Joy Tab.

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You:
How Are You, Really?

Me:
Last Saturday I hit a breaking point. Or whatever you want to call those moments these days where it just all feels like too much and not enough simultaneously. A vortex of feeling. A black hole of numbness. No tears though. Vortexes suck up tears and numbness doesn’t cry.

I confided to Jeremy that I felt as if the only times I’m truly happy lately are when I’m 1- singing, 2- running, or 3- all doing something together as a family unit (walking, drinking coffee on the couch, watching a movie). All the other times felt…anesthetized. This, I said, made me so sad. Not the feelings themselves (or lack thereof), but the ratios.

And he said: well that makes sense. You’ve spent almost an entire year just focused on how you can help everyone else. It makes sense that the things that fill you up are when you’re totally and completely self-focused.

Oh.

It’s true. Since March 2020, I’ve been switched onto Helper Mode. Personally and professionally. This is not a complaint. Rather, a recognition. My work is completely focused on helping other people through their tough stuff. Always has been. My personal motto (or one of them, along with such phrases as “don’t not give a fuck, just give selective fucks”) is one passed down to me by my high school theater teacher; that whenever you walk into a room the first thing you do is ask “what can I do to help?” Heck, it’s even in my astrological chart and Human Design and enneagram and all that stuff. Being of service is in me on a cellular level. And as entrepreneur Gloria Atamno says, it’s not always an easy task to separate the change you wish to make and what you actually carry the responsibility for – especially for those who feel like it’s their life’s assignment and calling to make that change.

All this focus on others honestly wouldn’t be as much of an issue if I was doing more than the bare minimum to keep mySELF afloat – which is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m usually someone whose energetic balance is worked into her daily life. It’s not just happenstance – I’ve spent almost two decades carefully crafting my days when and where I can to make sure I get solo time amidst the cacophony that is life. I thought ‘d figured out my formula.

But without commutes, social plans, small talk with the barista at the coffee shop, random trips to the drugstore (because I’m sure I need something, I’ll think of it later), and the predictable everydayness that was life before March, I’ve been way off balance for far too long. My scales (Libra here!) have been askew for almost a year.

~

A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We’re not MEANT to be 100% self-focused or 100% other-focused constantly – we need to be both.

And yet the last year has held many of us in one lane or the other:

Maybe you’ve been SELF-focused: doing things to keep yourself decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Self not because you’re arrogant or believe others don’t deserve these things too, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are your own. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no way you can take care of others. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well, you also end up feeling lonely and disconnected from others.

Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been OTHER-focused: doing things to keep others decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Other not because you believe you’re undeserving of these things yourself, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are out there in the community and world. We create the world we want to live in. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well about others, you also end up feeling burnt out and disconnected from yourself.

I do NOT want to tip the scales so far in one direction that I lose sight of the other, nor do I want to dim or blur my focus on others just to give myself some TLC. Again, keeping my Others-focus sharp is important to my DNA. I just need to sharpen my focus on myself in the meantime.

So what’s helping me (or at least what I HOPE will help me this month, I’m still working on this) is keeping a JOY TAB.

A list of 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that bring ME joy. A list of suggestions and Common Joy-Bringers at the top, then space for me to fill in the blanks.

Maybe you’re the opposite, though. You feel like you’ve spent so much time and energy isolated and trying to keep yourself satisfied/decent/hopeful/well that you rarely do anything that truly connects you to others in a way that feels meaningful to you that helps you focus on others AS you continue to focus on yourself.

For that I’d suggest the same convention, but with a twist. A CONNECTION (or COMMUNITY or SERVICE TAB (pick the word that feels right to you). 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that serve someone else or connect you with others.

I picked 10 per week because I like the idea of more than one thing a day. I personally need a lot more Self-oriented joy in my life. Also, I didn’t assign a specific number per DAY because I slip. Some days I don’t do anything that brings me joy that’s all my own — but days are long, so if I skip a day, I can surely find something to do to double up on another day. This ALSO makes me feel less guilty for spending “time on myself” when the guilt bug starts to bite (again – for you the feeling might be different).

Want your own Joy and Connection Tab templates? Click below to download:

To be honest with you, I stopped asking people “How Are You” long ago. Because I noticed that the default answer is usually “fine.” Even when people aren’t. We’re so pre-programmed to hear THAT question and give THAT answer that when people actually want to know how we are, we end up dismissing a chance for real connection, real emotion, and just real REALness beyond the perfunctory response. “Fine,” to me, is an answer you give when you give when you don’t want to talk about something. Or when you’ve had so many people in your past try to fix you that you just don’t want to get into it. Or, more commonly, an answer you give as a courtesy to someone else you figure is just asking you How You Are because it’s the polite thing to do. Nice, not kind.

And that, to me, is a shame. That we’re so used to equating the question “How Are You” with something either negative or obligatory that we just give the easiest answer that’ll stop the conversation soonest.

So, yeah, I’m not fine. And no, you don’t need to try and fix it. Because since I’m able to identify why exactly it is that I’m not fine — because I know your heart, and I trust that when you asked me How Are You, Really you actually wanted to dive into the deep end with me — I feel confident in being able to move through it. I’ve been here before, I’ll be here again. What’s going to make this time different?

 


WANT YOUR SELF:
What are some things that bring you JOY? What are some things that make you feel more CONNECTED TO others?
Can you make these suggestions for your future-self to take advantage of, for those times you’re looking to balance your scales?

How To Keep Your Good Going.

How To Keep Your Good Going.

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About seven months ago, I wrote:

Well. We’re not there yet.

But it feels like our New Normal is close.

Can you feel it too?

And hopefully, it will be a New Normal that’s been needed for a good long time.

I believe in you. I believe in your heart, your determination, your strength, your power. And while that’s great, the thing I care the most about is that YOU believe in you.

The year is beginning to wrap up. This weekend there were celebrations of joy around the whole WORLD (which is pretty bananas when you stop to think about that. The whole world). And the phrase that keeps swirling around in my brain is:

NOW THE WORK BEGINS, BECAUSE NOW THE WORK CAN BEGIN.

Fighting for change is not easy. Working to implement change after fighting for it is a whole other kind of “challenging.”

Because no matter the change – in our relationships, in our body image, in our careers, in our self-worth, in our society – the real test comes when it’s time to build and then maintain what we’ve fought so long for.

The real test comes when it's time to build and then maintain what we've fought so long for. Click To Tweet

I’ve gotten caught in the trap of achievement-seeking before, and then totally botched the building and maintaining part. It feels productive and proactive in the moment to fight for a win but the real test is what you do with everything that comes after.

I know I don’t want to look back and just see dreams. I want to look back and see how I built them. I know I don’t want to look back and just see determination. I want to look back and see what I did with it, especially in the quiet moments when no one was watching.

I know it can be really overwhelming to begin to think about the “now-whats” of life, especially directly following mentally and emotionally tumultuous times. Definitely rest and recharge and practice the actual self-care that leads to relief and release.

And then after, consider visiting these thought starters to get your wheels turning about where to go from here. Because it’s clear our Old Normal wasn’t working, and it’s important we pivot instead of falling back into a way of life that wasn’t serving us:

  • What have you learned you can do without? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you learned you CAN’T do without? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you realized doesn’t matter all that much? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What have you realized DOES matter a great deal? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What are you most excited about right now when you look toward the future? Why? And, what will you do about it?

  • What have you fought for this year? Why? And, what will you do about it in the future?

  • What will make this New Normal actually ✨NEW✨ for you? And, how will you make it happen yourself?


Let me know what you come up with in the comments. I’m always here.

Every batch of parents hopes their kids’ generation will “be the ones to change the world.” That’s all fine and feel-good. It’s important to keep hoping for better and better tomorrows.

And.

Don’t wait for another generation to come around.

Be the change you were born to be.

Right now.

I believe in you. And I hope you believe in you, too. 

I Am A Political Person.

I Am A Political Person.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I found something I wrote back in February 2016 the other day that began “I’m not a political person, but…”

Oof. Cringe-worthy.

I AM a political person. Always have been. We ALL are.

But I knew why I said that.

~

Never mind that everything after “but…” negated that statement. Claiming I “wasn’t a political person” was me basically opting out of any sort of conversation.

I was afraid of not having all the answers. I was afraid of being called out, or called in (oh the irony). I was afraid of social media backlash. And I was afraid of not being seen as understanding or empathetic.

Cringe.

The change started to happen sometime around summer 2016 (moving to NYC definitely played a part in this) and was really cemented on election night. I’d spent the day so giddily optimistic, walking around (in my white blazer and “H” shirt) with my friend Negin (in her Frida Kahlo as Rosie The Riveter shirt) marveling at the historic day we got to experience together. It felt like the celebration we’d waited our whole lives for.

Around 2am that following morning I began to realize how naive and empty my optimism had been. It was the realization that only “being political” when it felt convenient or safe to do so served literally no one – not even myself. That by not “being political” when it actually counted, I was in direct conflict with everything I SAID I believed and everything I SAID I was working toward. That “being political” only when I was surrounded by others who were “being political” wasn’t anything more than a feel-good moment for me myself & I.

I look back on that version of myself and I’m embarrassed. But I write all this to say that while it might be easy to look back on how you “once were” and overindulge your embarrassment:

 

THERE IS NO TIME TO GET CAUGHT UP IN EMBARRASSMENT.

 

I call my 2016 self in and hold her accountable for all she’s learned. I know she knows when and where she didn’t do enough and where she fucked up. And I know she knows that integrity isn’t just about morals and values – it’s about constantly assessing whether your intentions and impact are in alignment.

She knows that intent is not much if the impact doesn’t align. She knows that “but I meant this to be…” isn’t a valid argument.‬ ‪She knows that if you want something to have a certain effect and it doesn’t, and you’re not willing to change the action to get the intended impact, then it wasn’t ever really about the intention at all.‬

 

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I now know I’ll never have all the answers – there’s no way I can – and that in no way means I am exempt from speaking up and speaking out where my voice is useful. I now know we’re ALL political whether we “enjoy” talking about politics or not (bc politics isn’t a hobby, it’s a system that affects us all). I now know getting called IN/OUT is an opportunity to learn, grow, and change. I now know empathy needs a backbone and doesn’t excuse one damn thing or give anyone a free pass to be dangerous and destructive.

To be political is a freedom worth fighting for.

I am a political person. I no longer shy away from that.

We all are.

And no matter what happens from here on out: we are not done.

I am a political person. I no longer shy away from that. We all are. And no matter what happens from here on out: we are not done. Click To Tweet