The messages we give ourselves in thought are the ones that often show up in our attitudes, behaviors, and often result in self-fulfilling prophecy.

I know better than to bombard myself with negative self-talk, yet I find myself lashing out with negative self-talk regularly, and all it does is hamper my overall self-esteem.

Some of the things I tell myself are: I have no willpower, I’m so lazy, I hate myself, I’m overwhelmed by all this, I’m addicted, I’m such a procrastinator, I have AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder).

I also take stock of my good qualities. I’m friendly, have a great sense of humor, am a good listener, have compassion, and other qualities that I like about myself. It is very important that we acknowledge our good qualities and not just dwell on areas that can be improved.

One example of self-fulfilling prophecy is saying that I’m shaped like a watermelon. I’ve been gaining weight ever since and am working on getting that message out of my head. Instead of saying, “I hate my body,” I can say affirmations that are nurturing. I’m thinking about this: I love my body. Every day it is getting thinner. I am taking care of my body by eating healthy food in moderation, drinking plenty of water and exercising. It’s all working inch by inch I see results.

I met a woman online who had a very negative attitude toward herself and couldn’t see her own good qualities. Here was a wonderful opportunity to use some of the training I went through to become a peer support specialist. I asked her to make a list of her qualities. We focused on the positive and I prompted her to recognize some of them by asking questions based on what I knew. When she saw them written down she was better able to acknowledge them. The other list consisted of areas that could be worked on. At this time, several months later, I’ve noticed that she’s doing much better and has made some positive changes in her life, not necessarily because of the list, but a spark of hope was born within her.

My goal is to accept myself in all aspects of my character, for only then can I make effective changes by choice. I choose to not put this off any longer, and take action to get it done. I choose to break down anything that overwhelms me into baby steps. If it’s easy enough, I can accomplish it.

Doing something by choice is very freeing. We don’t “have” to do it and by choosing, we avoid “should.” Telling ourselves we “should” do this or that can result in guilt if we don’t follow through. We do not need guilt. If you’re anything like me, you have enough of that already.

We are works in progress. Joyce Meyer has said, “I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be.” Let’s dwell on the successes we have achieved, not the failures.

I think we are miracles in the making, one day, one small step at a time. One saying in a 12-step group is, “God is in the results department, I’m in the efforts department.” Making changes in our lives takes a lot of diligence. It’s so easy to stay in our comfort zone; it’s familiar. Stepping out can be somewhat daunting. However, as expressed above, we can take baby steps and make progress toward achieving our goals by deliberately making a choice to do so.

My belief is that it all starts in our head with the messages we give ourselves in the self-talk arena. When we stop putting ourselves down, our self-esteem will rise.