Life’s challenges come in a variety of shapes, sizes and potency. There are all kinds of lessons to learn. It seems we would need superhuman powers to battle the thoughts that creep into our heads after things go sour. A volcano of emotions erupting, bringing more turmoil than we bargain for at times. It takes incredible strength to help us overcome the negative self-talk that may follow some of the adversity in our lives.
Men and women experience moments of self-doubt and insecurity. While many men suffer in silence. Women may be more likely to discuss the bad thoughts that take them down a rabbit hole. The issue is increasingly prevalent due to mounting pressures to compete against other women for the unattainable.
How hard do you come down on yourself in instances where you drop the ball? Do you beat yourself up instead of finding ways to logically talk yourself out of a vortex of negative thinking? Or do you instead succumb to negative self-talk because it’s your habitual go-to way of thinking?
If the latter is the case, you might find comfort in knowing that a great deal of us do the same thing! We’re hard on ourselves, aren’t we? It still amazes me how I’m more lenient on others offenses than I am on myself over the smallest of blunders.
The simplest of examples to offer from my own experience just came to me while writing this blog for you. A few months ago while teaching my daughter how to do laundry, she had her first mishap. The clothes didn’t come out of the washer pink but one of my favorite dresses shrunk to a toddler size. Of course, I shrugged it off by explaining mistakes happen and it was just a dress. Then just recently, I did the same thing with my boyfriend’s favorite sweater! Obviously, he thought nothing of it, same as I did with my daughter. The thing is I felt terrible and spent days pondering, how could I be so careless not to double check the clothes I was throwing in the dryer? The error left me feeling like a dork! Soon as I caught myself, throwing punches in the mirror, I cut the legs off my behavior.
I’m learning to catch myself in the battle and fight back. By making a conscious effort to remind myself that I’m a wonderful, kind, thoughtful, considerate and giving person, I can eliminate the pattern of negative self-talk. Place a positive in front of the negative. Find a way to spin it! It’s awareness that I’ve had to work hard to understand in order to improve.
I sometimes wonder, why is it we can believe the negative thoughts but not the great ones. How is it we cave into the bad things we’re thinking as opposed to embracing the positive thoughts which are the ones to help us push through to the other side of an unfortunate event? Could it be that deep down we believe we don’t deserve happiness? Or feel we aren’t good enough? Is our self-esteem so bruised that we choose to kick ourselves down to the ground as a way of punishment? Maybe, it’s a combination of all those factors. The key to fighting it all? Knowing that YOU have control of what you feed your mind.
Working to do away with this behavior is essential to your emotional, psychological and physical well-being. Surrendering to negative self-talk can cause blues or depression, stress and high anxiety. The draining behavior may consequently produce low performance at work and disatisfaction in relationships. You name it! It affects every aspect of life bringing unnecessary unhappiness.
Allowing your inner critic to overpower you will also limit one’s potential to do great things. A major problem that may come up is distortion of reality. If not careful, you can get sucked up by negativity. So much, that you lose your sense of what’s truly in front of you. You begin to believe things about yourself that not only hold you back but aren’t factual.
There are a few things I try to do consistently that help me diminish at least some of the negative self talk. You can try one at a time and monitor the results.
1. Mute the Inner Critic: We all have an inner voice that thrives off our weaknesses. It’ waits for you to make a mistake to torture you. Learn to separate information given to you by the critical voices versus the truth. We’ll all have bad moments that cause distress. Pay careful attention to how you feel post-event. Don’t give in to the misery, culpability or embarrassment that can drive you to spiral. You have the power to influence your thoughts.
2. Cancel Out the Inner Critic: It’s imperative that you shut down the negative small talk going on in your head. Challenge it, fight it, refute what it says. Tell yourself over and over that you are stronger. You can beat it at its own game with positive affirmations. You know who you are, and you are capable of greatness. The things the critic tells you are a product of your experiences and environment. The mistakes and bad choices made don’t define you.
I’m still amazed at how much our behavior is affected by what we think. The difference between winning and losing in life is in food for thought. What do you think would happen if you replaced the negative for positive self-talk? Try it!
What mental habits will you modify to quiet the negative self-talk?
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