- Your negative self-talk can trick you into believing it's grounded. I'm not very good at this, so it's safer for me to avoid it.
- Your negative self-talk can be cruel. I never get anything right.
- Your negative self-talk can feel realistic. I didn't get the job, I guess I'm not good at interviews.
- Your negative self-talk can be total fantasy. I'm probably going to fail so I will never progress.
These musings often sound familiar – like a critical friend, boss, teacher, or parent. It's easy to start believing them when they mimic words and ideas that have already been expressed to you.
Negative self-talk tends to catastrophize and blame. It's the inner dialogue that limits your progress, derides your abilities, and prevents you from achieving your potential. Negative self-talk is a thought that lessens your ability to effect positive changes in life. It isn't just stressful, it's stunting your success.
Negative self-talk can be damaging. When you focus on the negative it kills your motivation. It makes you feel helpless and it's likely going to contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. The consequences of negative self-talk include perfectionism, depression, relationship challenges, and limited thinking.
If you want your self-talk to shape you in positive ways, then you have to learn how to minimize the negative aspects of your self-talk. Here are some tips.
Sometimes it's hard to remember this, but your feelings and thoughts aren't necessarily reality. You may believe them to be astute observations, but they aren't always accurate. Just like anyone, your thoughts are subject to bias, mood influence, and can be skewed.
Your inner-critic has a special skill – it has the innate ability to find the negative in any and every situation. If it weren’t so maddening it would be almost impressive. Give it a nickname so it's easier to dismiss it. Negative Nancy, Detrimental Dennis, whatever it is – when it starts the negativity cycle, you can simply dismiss it as [nickname] doing it again. It makes your inner critic seem less threatening and also helps highlight how silly some of those thoughts can be.
When you find your inner critic emerging it can be difficult to stop the chatter. In this situation, try to alter the language. Instead of saying I hate this, say this is difficult. Instead of saying I hate to try, I don't prefer. It's about toning down the intensity of the language your inner critic is using. You can mute the power of negative self-talk by forcing it to use gentler language.
Be Your Friend
When it is at its worst, your inner critic sounds like your nemesis. It says things that you would never say out loud to someone else. So, use that recognition to your advantage. When you catch your inner critic at it again, imagine yourself saying that to a friend. You wouldn't! This is a great way to correct negative self-talk.
By using positive language, you can prime your brain for positivity. Words matter and when you choose positive language (and hear it), it makes you feel positive. It makes you feel better emotionally and mentally, which will of course positively impact on your physical health and how you look at yourself.
You can take negative situations and words and turn them into more positive situations and words. Remember, it's going to improve your overall attitude and mindset. By using positive language, you are building a more positive outlook.
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