Going From Good Enough to Great!
BY Margie Mirell
January 02 2012 12:05 AM ET
As a psychotherapist, I often find myself dealing with clients’ frustrations over failed New Year’s resolutions. But what I often find to be at the core of these “failures” is simply a lack of realistic goal-setting. For example, clients wishing to lose weight sometimes pick an overly constrictive diet. Some decide to quit smoking without any support systems or replacements for the habit. Others vow to get out of debt without looking at a realistic budget.
It might be helpful at this early part of the year to reassess your goals and be constructive in bringing them into action. If not, you might find yourself let down. And when failure looms, anxiety and depression can easily invade.
The good news is we can stay on target and not give in to our frustrations.
Often times we set goals that are unattainable. They are a part of our fantasy projections of who we would like to be, or what we think people want us to be. As a result, we set ourselves up to fail, unknowingly sabotaging ourselves. At some point, a month or two along the way, we realize we are not moving toward the direction of our goal and negative self-talk begins to seep into our self-esteem.
Negative self-talk is the neuro-linguistics of defeat. Literally translated, “neuro” refers to our nerves/brain, while “linguistics” is language. In other words, the language we send to our brains that controls our behavior is literally talking us into failing.
Unknowingly willing ourselves to fail is a difficult habit to break. But in order to successfully navigate healthy, realistic goals, we have to exchange this negative behavior for a positive one. To do this, we must change the thoughts and language that we feed to ourselves and our brains. Your intentions can be healthy and great, but if you’re communicating to yourself that you’re not “good enough” because you haven’t even come close to your goal, you are, in essence, sabotaging yourself.
What can you do to stop this? Whenever you find yourself disappointed, frustrated, or using negative self-talk, take a step back and ask yourself these three questions:
What did I do right?
First, congratulate yourself for being self-reflective. This in itself is an important element of success. Next, write down as many affirmative statements as you can about what you have done. Whether it was three days of not smoking, five days of not shopping for non-essentials, or a day without cookies; it is essential to find the positive.
Now take your list and use it to reward yourself with statements like, “Wow, I did that really well — better than I thought I could.” Let yourself feel the positive statements by breathing in affirmative, self-regarding feelings. Feel the good self-esteem flow through your body and mind.