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Why telling yourself you suck, well, sucks

Not once, but twice this week I heard people telling themselves they sucked. One person said she sucked at a specific task, while another proclaimed she sucked in general.

As someone who spent years and years telling myself how sucky I was, I tend to notice these things. I also know the kind of damage this negative self-talk can do – even when the talk may initially seem offhand, innocuous and perhaps even a bit silly to examine.

What negative self-talk can do to you

When you keep telling yourself how awful you are, whether it’s at a certain task or in general, you may eventually come to believe it. And when you believe all that negative stuff about yourself, it can lead to:

  • Higher stress, lower self-esteem
  • Doses of depression
  • Decreased motivation, increased feelings of helplessness
  • The big, fat thought of “Why bother?!”

I mean, if you suck, then other people must suck, right? And if other people suck then the whole world must suck and your dog might even suck so you may as well go scurry away and die.

The example above may seem a bit ridiculous, especially when a phrase or two of negative self-talk may not seem to be harming anything at all. But years of the negative stuff can result in a buildup that does indeed explode to such ridiculous proportions.

Call it the snowball effect, with the initial small handful of negativity picking up more negativity and steam as it rolls wildly down the hill into a deep abyss of depression. Have a nice day.

What negative self-talk can do to your abilities

When I still find myself saying “I suck” at a certain task, it’s usually not because I really am bad at it. It’s usually because I don’t like or want to do it.

For instance, I used to insist I was horrible at programming the clock on the VCR (remember those things?). Even though the task wasn’t rocket science, it became my go-to excuse because I simply didn’t like it.

The task is a pain in the butt to begin with, and then it needs to be done over and over whenever you shut down power to reset the machine or power goes out in a storm. Get that task away from me. Best way to get it away? Tell everyone I suck at it.

I noticed, too, that whenever I told myself I was horrible at something a kind of blockade would go up in my brain, preventing me from actually learning more or getting good at the task even if I wanted to.

This had been the case with an in-depth insurance-related task I once had at my job as an admin assistant in the insurance industry. I recall telling a coworker how bad I stank at the task.

Her response? She said it was then my duty to become the person in the office who was the VERY BEST at that task, to become a veritable superstar at it, to get so good at it, that it would become the leading entry on my resume.

Grumble, grumble moan.

Yeah, it worked. I no longer sucked at the task. I still didn’t really like doing it, but not because I couldn’t. I was actually quite good at it. This taught me I could indeed be a superstar at something I previously believed to be beyond my capabilities. All I had to do was put in the effort.

The same thing happened with the VCR. Instead of having a blockade in my brain make the clock-programming turn into a jumble of confusion, I could now successfully complete the task.

Goody for me? Not really. Now I’m in charge of adjusting and resetting ALL the clocks in the house when the power goes out. Great.

The positive bottom line (yaay!)

So, getting rid of negative self-talk may not get you out of doing tasks you don’t like, but at least you won’t think you’re not capable. Just remember how the negative self-talk can snowball into a wildly rolling bulk of crap that squashes your hope and dreams forever.

Catch yourself the next time you’re about to say something negative about yourself or your abilities. The next time you’re about to say something nasty, ask yourself if you would treat a friend that way. If the answer is no, then don’t treat yourself that way.

Also ask yourself what the real reason is behind the negativity. And it’s NOT because you suck. Because you don’t. You’re beautiful, wonderful and capable of doing whatever it is – even if you don’t like doing it.

Ready to purge more negative stuff from your life? Schedule a free consultation for Rynski coaching. (And I promise, the scheduling task doesn’t suck!)

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