W hat does identity mean to you? YourDictionary describes identity as “who you are, the way you think about yourself, the way you are viewed by the world, and the characteristics that define you.” The most important thing to take from this definition is that identity means the way you think about yourself. So often we will internalize the things that others say about us or the way we are treated and use that to guide our self-talk.

Learning how to make your self-talk be your own voice, is a skill that can be a challenge, but can truly change your life. Here are 3 tips on improving your self-talk in order to be truer to your authentic self.

  1. Analyze your inner voice

When a negative thought crosses your mind, think about where that thought originates. Is this something that someone has said to you? Something you’ve heard said about others like you? Or something that you are fearful of? Finding the answer to this question can be challenging, but is so important, and here’s why.

When you find out the origin of that little voice inside your head, you can better control your thoughts/fears instead of letting them control you. 

Here’s an example:

Negative Self-Talk: “I am worthless to people around me. Instead of providing input or my ideas for something, I should fade into the background and let other people provide input. My input causes trouble to others.

This is something I have struggled with in the past and I have to think:

Where did this originate?

“Is this something I’m telling myself or has this come from others.”

The answer I found was that someone important in my life had made me feel this way about myself. Once I pinpointed this, I could view this thought as only one person’s opinion. There are so many people in the world that make contributions without thinking them through or that might not be the most meaningful. If they have confidence about making their voice heard then why shouldn’t I. One person’s opinion or feelings about me do not define who I am.

I am what I develop myself to be.

  1. Developing a Positive Self-Talk

Well, I know where my negative self-talk comes from, now what? Now it’s time to develop your own self-talk instead of letting other people’s voices roam free in your head. Time to get out a piece of paper, or if you aren’t the writing type, consciously think of 5 things that you acknowledge that you like about yourself and your skills in life.

Here’s an example:

  •     I am empathetic and help people feel heard
  •     I am a hard worker
  •     I am passionate about fairness and equality for all
  •     I chose the people in my close circle wisely
  •     I am developing the skill of self-care

P.S. This is difficult no matter how many times you do this.

  1. Claiming Your Identity

As you begin to think of yourself in a more positive light, you will find it easier to be proud of the person that you are. Understanding that people’s opinions say more about the kind of people they are than it has anything to do you will empower you to embrace the person that you are.

Embracing yourself means that you accept the good, the bad, the things you love about yourself, the things you are working to improve, and everything that makes the person you are unique and valuable to society.

Teach your mind to rethink the way it absorbs information and let yourself be empowered by giving yourself grace and allowing yourself to grow without always limiting yourself or allowing others to limit the way you view yourself. 

Shoutout to Hafsa for sharing her personal journey in improving her self-talk: 

“Where are you from?”  “Do you speak English?”  Because I wear the hijab, oftentimes I am viewed as a foreigner. Those are some of the questions I get asked by some people. Getting viewed as an outsider led me to question my identity. As a teenager, I struggled to view myself as an American. 

I had to constantly prove to my peers I was just like them. I liked listening to the same music they listened to, eat the same food they ate, and wear trendy clothing. It was not easy to prove to my peers that I was American when I did not feel I was being viewed as one. I used the negative label people coined me as my identity, which was the label “outsider.”

When I went to visit family in Pakistan, they viewed me as an American. That was when I realized I identified with being American more than I did of being Pakistani. I mean English was my first language since I was about 5 years old. I preferred eating pizza instead of curry. Not that I did not eat curry. I ate American food more than I ate traditional South Asian food. How could I not view myself as an American when that is who I was. My inner voice spoke to me and I decided to listen to it. The only voice that mattered was my own and not someone else’s voice.

I am American as apple pie and no one can tell me otherwise.