Some Advice on How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

Our mind has the power to take us places we don’t truly want to go. If we’ve had people in our lives telling us things about ourselves that are not true too many times, then we can start to believe it. This can happen when beliefs have been in our minds for so long they became normalized – and in a sense comfortable to think of it as truth. Clarity on what you want to believe about yourself will help you recreate your thinking process.

Be Realistic

  • First let’s make this challenging task realistic. Taking little steps is the key.
  • By thinking that you want less negative self-talk instead of none at all are very different goals.
  • By practicing, you will become better.
  • By remembering that awareness is half the battle, it will make you realize that by knowing you use negative self-talk, you did progress.
  • By being ok with it, by accepting it with no resistance, and trying your best to avoid shame comments, this goal will become easier.

Know the Difference Between Shame and Guilt

The meanings are not the same and knowing the difference will give you more awareness on the types of comments to use when you are talking to yourself. According to scholar Brené Brown’s research: “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Guilt is, ‘I did something bad.’ Shame is, ‘I am bad.’ Guilt: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry. I am a mistake. Although shame and guilt may seem similar, shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, and aggression. In contrast, guilt is linked to empathy and understanding other perspectives.”

So there we have it. When we make a mistake, let’s accept it and remember that those mistakes are not linked with who we are, but what we do. This way we can fix our mistakes by changing our behaviour and at the same time truly embrace ourselves.

Take Every Moment as an Opportunity

By being open minded and changing the way we see a “negative” situation, we can redirect our thoughts in a completely different direction.

For example, you slept in and you are late for work. You could tell yourself: “I’m such and idiot, I’m such a bad employee, now I really screwed up,” or “Being late is something that I really dislike so from now on I will remember to put two alarms on and go to bed a bit earlier. I am already late so there is no need to stress about it. I’ll get there, apologize and own my mistake.”

This might not be comfortable at first, but it will make you realize that with creativity, you can find a way to learn from your mistakes more easily and give yourself some slack. We are human. We make mistakes. Let’s face it and learn from it.

Put These Techniques into Daily Use

Now the biggest thing is to remember all of this. Associate a symbol like a sun or a happy face as a reminder to have constructive self-talk, have a visible quote handy, listen to inspiring music or watch videos like Brené Brown’s Ted Talks called “Listening to Shame” and “The Power of Vulnerability”. By finding a way to avoid being on autopilot you will recreate your thinking process and start believing that your best is indeed good enough.

I would love to hear your comments/questions about this article.

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