Imagine this – A child sitting beside you is very upset. When you ask them what happened and they say they lost a match. You give them a judgemental look and say- “That is so bad, you do not have it in you to win. This shows you will never amount to anything. You are a failure.” Will you actually ever do that to the child? No, your heart would never let you do that. Instead, you’ll probably say something like this- ” Oh! I understand why you are upset but don’t lose your heart. You will get plenty of matches to win in the future. Learn from your failure and work hard. I know you can do it.”
Now imagine both these conversations happened not with the child but with your reflection in the mirror.
In this article:
- What Is Negative Self Talk?
- Where does negative self-talk come from?
- How Negative Self-Talk Damages Us ?
- Overcoming Negative Self-Talk
What is negative self-talk?
A small voice inside of us is always talking to us. The conversation with this voice is what is known as self-talk. We listen very sincerely to this voice and this voice has the greatest impact on us. We believe this voice and whatever it says unconditionally. This is why the inner voice and what it says to us is so important.
Negative self-talk is when this voice becomes criticizing, limiting, disappointing, demotivating, incriminating condemning, and harsh towards you. It is all the negative statements that you tell yourself. If this voice within you is limiting your belief in your ability to do something, to be something, or to get something, then you need to be on alert mode now and freeze the frame right there. You need to step outside of the frame and rewind a little to reason with what your voice is saying.
Where does negative self-talk come from?
When you step out of the frame you will be clearer on where this negative self-talk is coming from. Negative self-talk comes from your negative self-beliefs. Over the course of time, influenced by our experiences and beliefs of important or influential people in our lives, we form beliefs about ourselves. Say, for example, if you have had a bad experience on stage in your past, you create a belief that you are not a good performer and that people will not like you. The next time you go on stage you will be more anxious as your inner voice is telling you that you are a bad performer. This anxiety will lead to further negative experiences, re-instating your original belief.
Or say you have had a very bad teacher in school, who instead of helping you face challenges has always demotivated you and put you down telling you that you will not be successful in any task you do. The voice of a teacher is quite influential in our early days and hence, listening to this multiple times you start believing that it is true. Creating a self-belief that you cannot be successful. Going forward in life this voice inside you will always limit you to take up any project as you’ll always have the fear of failure and the belief that you are not good enough.
A few Causes of Negative Self-Talk are listed below:
- Overthinking about everything.
- Bad and toxic relationships
- Avoiding self-development and self-care
- Constant comparison with others
- Traumatic experiences of the past
- Spending time around energy vampires
- Not asking for help when you need it.
- Poor role models while growing-up and now in life.
How Negative Self-Talk Damages Us ?
When the little voice in your head is constantly putting you down it becomes really tough for any external motivation to help you get up again. Negative Self-Talk Damages you in the following ways:
- Lowers your self-esteem and confidence
- Continues the vicious cycle of limiting beliefs.
- Takes away your happiness
- Results in internal conflicts
- Stops you from setting goals of your desires.
- Creates obstacles in every activity.
- Leads to severe mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- It damages your personal and professional relationships
- Distorts your view of people and situations.
Overcoming Negative Self-Talk
Now that you know the damages negative-self talk can cause to your life, I am sure you would also like to know how you can do some damage control. Overcoming negative self-talk is important but it will need some time and determination on your side.
Recognize your negative thoughts
The first step is to recognize your thoughts. As soon as you listen that the voice is saying something to you, stop, and recognize if the voice is saying something negative. Every time you need to be on alert mode to recognize if the voice inside you is limiting you or criticizing you. If you can recognize this voice, half of your work towards overcoming your negative thoughts is done.
Identify the patterns in your thought
Try to identify patterns in your thoughts. Look for connections and see if all your negative thoughts lead to a specific pattern. The pattern points to a specific cause in general which is leading you to have negative self-beliefs and talks. For example, if your thoughts are like,’ I need help in shopping, what if I get something wrong.’, ‘ I need to take ask someone to choose which project I should pick up.’ , ‘ I need to see if this makes everyone happy.’ , ‘ I am not sure if they will even listen to me. Such thoughts point towards a pattern and that is low-self esteem. write down the statements you say to yourself and identify the pattern.
Counteract with your self-talk
Whatever your inner voice is telling you, reason with it. Check the facts behind the statements. If your inner voice is telling you ‘ There is no point in trying, I will fail. ‘ Then ask that voice to give you proofs. Ask it how can it say so confidently that failure is invariable.
Positive affirmations when practiced daily can work wonders on your negative self-beliefs by impacting your subconscious thinking. So use positive affirmations relating to the pattern you have identified in your thoughts. Until the time you have not identified the pattern of your negative self-talk use general affirmations like-
” I love and accept myself.”
” I have all the power within me to achieve all my goals.”
” I am worthy of all great things in life.”
” I am a magnet for success”, and so on
Separate incidence from fate
You need to see your failures as isolated incidence. Just because you failed a particular time or maybe more than once does not mean that you are destined to fail. These were isolated incidents and not your fate.
Go easy on yourself
Realize that you are a human being and you are allowed to make mistakes. Don’t let the mistakes of your past burden your present to ruin a beautiful future. Accept your mistakes as learnings from the past and move on to create a better life. And, remember that you will make mistakes in the future too. So don’t let the fear of making mistakes hold you back.
Seek therapy for traumas of past / mental health issue
Sometimes taking professional help to deal with past traumas becomes necessary. Don’t avoid asking for help. In situations of severe anxiety and depression, I would suggest taking up therapy without losing time. Connect here.
Spend time on self-care
the most ignored aspect of our life is me-time/relax time /self-care. Whatever you name it you know in your heart that you are not taking out enough time for yourself. Self-care also has to be all-rounded. You should work on all types of self-care to balance your life. You can try a 30-day self-care challenge for starters here.
Stop comparing yourself with others.
Comparing yourself to others is a major setback in overcoming negative self-talk. Don’t compare your life to what you can see from the life of others. You never know how emotionally frustrated a person driving an Audi may be or how financially broke a person on vacation maybe. You never know who carries what kind of burden. The comparisons you make create negative beliefs in you regarding some aspects of your life that you believe to be perfect in others. Hence, don’t compare your life to the cover page of someone else’s.
Develop positive self-talk
Other than overcoming negative self-talk, it is also important to replace them with positive ones. Read books and articles that promote such behaviors. Be around people who are motivating and positive in life. reward yourself for little achievements and boost your confidence through any ways that seem appropriate.
Practicing these little things with high determination will help you in overcoming negative self-talk and boost your progress in life by multiples.