Tortuous self-doubt hinders personal growth

American Author and motivational speaker, Leo Buscaglia, wrote: “Too often, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

The opportunities to uplift others are endless, and the impact an act of kindness may have toward a fellow human being is truly immeasurable. While we may not register the effect of a small kindness in the moment, it is impossible to know what an uplifting word could mean to someone in his or her darkest hour.

But what about the messages we give ourselves?

According to Psychology Today, “If you are like most people, you know your inner critic all too well. It is the voice in your head that judges you, doubts you, belittles you and constantly tells you that you are not good enough. It says negative, hurtful things to you — things that you would never even dream of saying to anyone else. I am such an idiot; I am a phony; I never do anything right; I will never succeed.”

That kind of negativity is downright abusive. Sadly, many people are committing verbal assault against themselves on a regular basis. According to scientists every single person on Earth is a miracle of nearly impossible proportions. A statistic commonly used to express this says each person born has a one in 400 trillion possibility of existing.

But come to find out, that statistic is faulty. The actual odds are even more staggering: 1 in 10 to the power of 2,685,000.

That’s a 10 with 2,685,000 zeros after it.

Author Dr. Ali Binazir is also a personal growth consultant who uses this illustration for perspective: “Think of it like this –– It’s the same probability of 2.5 million people getting together –– about the population of San Diego –– each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice, and they all come up the exact same number, say, 550,343,279,001.”

Which brings me to this: You are a miracle. You. The person reading this sentence at this juncture in time — you are a miracle. I ask you, is negative self-talk any way to treat a precious miracle?
Researchers estimate that we think about 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day, and that about 70 percent of those thoughts are negative. That is a damaging amount of negativity.

If no one else can hear the awful things we say to ourselves, does it even matter? What difference does is it make anyway?

Jack Canfield, award-winning speaker, author and leader in personal development and peak performance, explains: “When you experience the effects of negative thoughts – such as thoughts that create the emotional states of fear, anger, anxiety, guilt, shame or regret, several things happen: The muscles in your body actually become weaker and your stress levels go up. Plus, your body simultaneously experiences changes in biochemistry and hormone levels, and you may even suffer from gastrointestinal or digestive problems among other physical symptoms.”

What if we could reprogram those messages? Imagine what mankind could accomplish if the tortuous self-doubt that hinders personal growth and happiness could be silenced.

Thankfully, there are a variety of tools available to help break these patterns.

These are free and available for use immediately: offers more than a dozen self esteem worksheets and activities for adults and teens.

Also, a free guide titled, “Think this, not that: A guide to everyday positive thinking” is available at lists tips for overcoming negative thoughts as well. has worksheets and aids for building self-esteem which are downloadable free of cost.
If negativity seems to be your only mode, or if you have concerns about a loved one, trained volunteers at the Samaritans can help with advice and resources on many topics, too (877) 870-4673 (HOPE).

I am endeavoring to extend the compassion I feel for others toward myself, in order to begin the work of erasing the destructive sound track I sometimes allow myself to fall prey to. I’m replacing those negative thoughts with encouragement and optimism. Up to 50,000 messages a day is a lot of reprogramming, but I’m worth the effort, and so are you.