Turn Off Negative Self-TalkWritten by Tigre Haller
We all do it. Let the voices in our head tell us how we should feel, what we should (and shouldn’t do), that we’re not good enough…
Not to worry though. There are steps you can take to recognize and deal with negative self-talk. And we’ll discover some of them together…
The first part of dealing with negative self-talk is being able to recognize what it is. See if any of these ring a bell:
- You imagine people are talking bad about you. For example, you’re giving a presentation and two audience members start to whisper to each other and you imagine they’re comparing notes on what a poor speaker you are.
- You imagine no one wants to know you. Remember that networking event where no one would make eye contact or introduce themselves to you? Did that really happen or were you imagining it?
- You assume your partner is mad at you about something because they’re not very engaging. Maybe they were just having a quiet moment.
- You expect a series of bad things to happen, or a rash of bad luck just because of one negative experience.
- You immediately get down on yourself for the little things, like not remembering someone’s name, or buying the wrong brand of dish soap. Sure, these things might be important, but are they life-shattering?
- You don’t accept compliments well, or you tend to minimize your own accomplishments. Don’t give into false modesty.
- You only see the worst case scenario. Half empty / half full. What a conundrum.
- You take everything personally, even if it has nothing to do with you. That might be a signal of a deeper emotional issue.
- You absorb other people’s problems and negative emotions like a sponge. Highly sensitive people and empaths are particularly prone to this danger.
- These are just some of the examples of how the Monkey Brain can take over and wreak havoc with our lives.
If you’re human, you’ve probably heard negative self-talk at least a few times in your life. And, you’ve probably allowed self-doubt to get the best of you from time-to-time. Allowing these negative voices to take over the control panel can result in a whole host of problems. (That’s not being negative, that’s being realistic.)
Be mindful of these red alerts (among others):
- Increased stress
- Decreased motivation
- Limited drive
- Change in relationships
- Lost opportunities
- Panic and anxiety
- Fear of trying
- Extreme jealousy
- Feelings of not measuring up
Control the Narrative
If you start to feel any of the above sensations in an intense way, or over a prolonged period of time, you might want to seek out professional help. In the meantime, try out some of these methods to turn off the negative self-talk, and to live a more fulfilling life.
- Accentuate the positive. When the voice is telling you you’re not good enough, block it with a positive mantra. Something like, “I am enough. I am so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough I am!” Be GRATEFUL not HATEFUL. A special thanks to Broadway star Sierra Boggess for those wonderful thoughts.
- Be your best friend. You probably have compassion for others, but what about yourself? When you start being hard on yourself, stop, take a breath and say, “It’s ok. It’s ok. You’re fine.” or something along those lines. Giving yourself a big hug is always nice too.
- Write a list about your positive traits, and of the things you’ve accomplished in your life. Not only the big moments, but also on those that seem unimportant. Like when you first rode a bike, or swam on your own. Or your first job, or how caring you can be. See, you’re amazing!
- Catch the words of your inner critic and soften them. For example, if you hear “You’ll never be able to…” turn it into “You can at least try…” or “They’ll make fun of you…” can become “They’d be lucky to know me…”
- Understand the situation for what it really is, not for what you imagine it to be. If you automatically see the worst case scenario, try stepping back for a moment and looking at the situation objectively. Will things really be as bad as you expect if ABC doesn’t happen the way you want it to? Most likely not.
- Be stoic. The stoic masters from Ancient Rome, and their contemporary disciples, remind us that there are two types of situations: those we can control and those we can’t. So, there’s no real need to worry about either one, is there?
- Laugh at adversity. Laughter is a great way to release stress and deflate negativity. Next time you’re hard on yourself, let the thought of something funny fill your mind and let yourself have a full on laugh attack. You can also laugh at how much power you’re giving to that voice to begin with.
- Untangle the mess. When we’re feeling bad, put upon, frustrated, full of self-loathing, it’s really hard to see clearly. This is when you want to take a breath - or several - and ask yourself what is really going on? OK, you feel bad, but why? No, don’t listen to the critic, what’s the real reason? Examine every emotion as it arises and separate them out from each other. This will help you to recognize what’s legitimate and what can be flushed.
- Let them out. An effective way to exorcise negative self-talk is to give it actual voice. You can let them have their say by writing the words down, by screaming the words out (in a safe space that won’t disturb others), or talking to someone else. Once they’re out in the world, you’ll be able to see them for what they really are - and aren’t.
- Seek professional help. A life coach, psychotherapist, hypnotherapist or energy worker can offer you different ways of getting a handle on the Monkey Mind.
Ahhh... take a moment to reflect upon what you've just read.
You are in control of yourself, never forget that. Especially when it feels like things are spinning away from you. These are just a few quick tips that you can put into action right away.
We would love to know how you deal with negative self-talk. By sharing your methods you can also help others.