You would probably never walk into the kitchen and intentionally cut yourself with a knife. That would be nuts. You’d need stitches, and a really good explanation to the doctor, your family, your friends as to just why you sliced yourself. So then how come we slice ourselves with words that we repeat to ourselves until they become one of our truths? The difference is that although a physical slice is there for all to see, the mean things we say about ourselves – TO ourselves – is a pain we endure silently. Why do treat ourselves so badly?
Whether labels others have called us and we have adopted, or labels we have given ourselves and worn like a coat, they affect our outlook on life, our emotions, and the ability to reach our full potential. PsychologyDictionary.org defines negative self-talk as:
“the expression of thoughts or feelings which are counter-productive and have the effect of demotivating oneself.”
Negative self-talk lives in the land of make-believe because the labels we give ourselves we believe to be true, when in actuality they are usually very far from the truth.
We may tell ourselves we’re stupid, fat, lazy, not as good as others, crazy, weird, people won’t like me, I have to be perfect, etc.,etc., etc., and although we may be successful at convincing ourselves, the reality is we are usually none of these. Unfortunately, we may be so successful at convincing ourselves that we are less than, that according to recoveryhope4all.com, negative thoughts:
“often come so automatically that we are unaware of them. We start to feel anxious, sad or depressed, but we do not notice the thoughts that are causing us to feel that way. In order to counter these thoughts and feel better, we first need to “catch ourselves in the act” of negative self talk.”
In order to test the truth of our perceptions, the article continues, examine the self-talk by:
“asking yourself questions, such as:
What evidence backs up this thought?
Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
What is the worst thing that could happen?
How likely is it?
What is the best that can happen?
What is most likely to happen?
Is thinking this way helping me to feel good or to achieve my goals?”
1. Catch yourself. So often we run on autopilot and allow our minds to ruin our day. So, start each day with the conscious goal to catch yourself saying negative things.
2. Call a spade a spade. Next, label what you just said! Recognize it as negative self talk.
3. Use the following formula: “I just had the thought…” (repeat the negative thought here).
If you caught youself saying, “I am not worth it,” for example, then you would pause and say, “I just had the thought, ‘I am not worth it.’”
Using this formula securely labels the thought as a mere thought. If you do not realize that what you said was just a thought, you run a higher risk of taking it personally and allowing it to ruin your day.
4. Take a deep breath and move on!