Calling all leaving cert students (and everyone else)

Allow me to address the voice in your head this week. The one that incessantly speaks to you every minute of every day. Sometimes it even answers back. As you are reading this you might be asking yourself ‘what voice in my head?’ Well…that one. As a guest speaker at a writing group recently, a participant asked me for advice regarding the voice in her head, the one that was telling her that she was stupid, that she couldn’t write and never could write, and will never write and to forget about the whole darn thing. I bet you recognise the voice in your head now. You might not want to be a writer but I am sure there is something else you would like to do, like pass your exams, or pursue a goal of some kind, so it is necessary to silence that voice that is telling you that you can’t and you won’t and you shouldn’t bother. We all have tapes that play in our minds. Some offer positive messages that lift us up while others are negative and tear us down. You’re too fat, you’re too short, you’re too tall, you’re not smart enough, you’re too slow, and you are never going to be able to do anything are some of these negative messages. They can dictate everything from how we respond to criticism and compliments to how we feel about ourselves, to how we interact with our friends, colleagues and partners. The good news is it is possible to overcome the old, negative messages and replace them with empowering ones and here are three ways in which you can do just that. Treat yourself as you treat your best friend. That means telling yourself the things you would say to a friend. There is no way you would tell your friend that she is fat and ugly, and will never be able to do anything right. If you did, he/she wouldn’t be around for long. One of the best ways to combat negative messages is to become your very own cheerleader. Treat yourself well! Do things that make you feel happy. Say nice things to yourself. Throw in a bit of humour. Don’t take you or life too serious and don’t put yourself under pressure. Treat yourself after study or working hard on something and spend quality time with yourself simply because YOU enjoy YOU. Challenge your existing beliefs. The idea here is to think back to an earlier time in your life to discover when and where your limiting beliefs got started, and to challenge them. Ask yourself are they true, or if they were ever true. Then decide what you WANT to be true, and replace your old beliefs with your new ones. Focus on what’s right in your life. Focus on all those things in your life that you are grateful for. Praise and encourage yourself when you accomplish something. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Say things like, ‘I’m really proud of myself for doing that’, and ‘it wasn’t easy, but I pushed through the rough spots and gave it my best shot’. You can also repeat positive affirmations like ‘I am a valuable person’, ‘I have a lot to offer the world’ and ‘I am enough’. Adopting a more positive language will pay off. Happier thoughts will give you fewer things to feel bad about and encourage you to go for it. Best of luck Leaving Certers (and all readers). Be your best study buddy and tell yourself YOU CAN DO IT!