Do you feel like a slacker every now and then? Like you just can’t seem to make progress on your dreams or even on the little things you promised yourself you would do.
It’s not uncommon to feel frustration with ourselves when yet another week or month passes and we aren’t where we want to be in life.
When you feel like a slacker there are 5 steps you can take to turn off the negative self-talk in your head and get yourself on the path to progress.
5 Steps to Transform Negative Self-Talk
- Ask yourself which part of the story you’re spinning is fact and which part is fluff.
- Focus on the facts.
- Create a vision of what you truly want your life to look like around this topic, for both the short and long term.
- Turn your thoughts from negative to positive and achievable.
- Aim for progress not perfection and simply begin.
Let’s follow the steps using an example…if you feel like a slacker because you didn’t exercise everyday last week you might be telling yourself something along the lines of I‘m such a slacker! I never stick to this exercise thing. I only exercised 1 day last week and I never have the time or the energy to workout before or after I go to the office. I’ve got to get on top of this or just give up and accept the fact that I’m going to be fat for the rest of my life!
Sensing a bit of mellow drama here? That’s because we usually pound ourselves down with extremes and focus on the negative even when it is inaccurate. Our brains are actually designed to focus on fear and potential pain. The good news is that our minds have the capacity to override this tendency to spiral into negative self-talk. We simply have to learn to catch ourselves when we are in this downward spiral, then pause and begin working with the 5 transformational steps.
First you’ll identify which part of your mental dialog is fluff, let it go and next focus on the facts. In this example the only fact that can be established for sure is that you exercised 1 day last week. That is better than not exercising at all. You are feeling frustrated because you recognize a gap in what you truly want and the actions you are taking.
Now it’s time to create a vision of what you truly want your life to look like. In this example we’ll focus on the area of exercise and health. In this third step you can use drawing, writing or any other form of self expression that helps you more clearly see your larger vision of your health and the short term steps that will lead you to achieve it.
Once you have a vision of the results you truly want from a healthy lifestyle, turn your self-talk from negative to positive and achievable. Create a new, more positive, thought sequence to repeat when you feel like a slacker.
Here’s one way you could reframe your health goals:
I am such an active person. I love this exercise thing! I exercised at least 30 minutes 5 days last week because I made activity part of my work day by taking stairwell breaks every 25 minutes and parking my car as far as possible from the office. I’m going to enjoy being healthy and fit for the rest of my life because I find opportunities to move my body throughout the day and don’t judge exercise as something that has to happen in big time blocks like 30 minutes or an hour. This lifestyle change feels great!
Finally the most important step is to aim for progress not perfection.
Notice how the positive thought sequence focuses on small gains throughout the day. It sets you up for success with realistic expectations and small changes. There isn’t an all or nothing feel to it, but an overall enjoyment of the process.
What does all of this means for you if you still feel like a slacker and want to be a rockstar achiever? It means that there is no time like the present to act. Use the 5 steps above to act on a vision of what you truly want in your life. Have compassion and understanding for yourself when you miss the mark. Let go of trying to do everything and focus on what is most important to you.
Your mind doesn’t work like an on/off switch. This process will take time to become more natural to you. But that’s ok, because you’ll make progress and experience more positive self-talk along the way.
Each time you catch yourself feeling like a slacker simply pause, let go of the past and choose to take one simple step on the path you want to walk in life. One foot, and one constructive thought, in front of the other and you’ll be living as the best version of yourself today!
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For more on how to train your brain to be less reactive and negative read Buddha’s Brain.