Challenging Negative Self Talk

Negative self talk is something that has absolutely no value and yet is something we find very hard to stop. Even if the negative self talk is accurate, telling yourself about your failings is only going to cause you to underperform or worse still to give up all together. At the same time this can end up damaging your self-confidence across the board, making you depressed and generally preventing you from achieving your potential. Most of the time of course the negative self talk is far from accurate, but in these situations it can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby you actually become worse at something because you are so convinced that you can’t do it to begin with.

Negative self talk presents a vicious cycle wherein you convince yourself you can’t do something, fail to do it as a result, and then take even more of a blow to your confidence. The only solution is to find a way to silence the negative voice in your head, and to boost your confidence so that you can move on. Here we will look at how to do this.

Step 1: Identify the Self Talk

First of all you need to identify the nature of the negative self talk and to look at what precisely it is that you are thinking which is preventing you from doing the things you want to do. You can do this with a technique called ‘mindfulness’ where you will dedicate some time to just listening to the contents of your thoughts. You are meditating, but rather than trying to silence your inner monologue you are instead letting it run and just seeing what it is that it’s saying without interrupting ‘like watching clouds go by’. This then gives you a little more self-awareness and allows you to identify precisely what it is you are thinking to yourself and thus enables you to look at changing that habit.

Step 2: Positive Affirmations

Negative self talk can become a habit so that you are habitually thinking things that are negative and damaging to your self-esteem. What you need to do then is to learn to stop doing this and to instead think more positive things, or positive affirmations. Think then about the negative statements you are making and then come up with some opposite statements you can start using instead. If you are constantly thinking ‘I am awkward in social situations’ then replace this instead with ‘I am confident and well spoken’ or with ‘it doesn’t matter what people think as long as I have fun’. The idea is then to repeat these phrases often enough that eventually you start to think these habitually instead. Get into the habit of repeating these phrases and if necessary try using post-its or messages to yourself around your home to remind yourself.

Step 3: Prove Yourself Wrong

Another thing to try and do is to simply disprove your negative self talk by going ahead and trying the thing that you were afraid to do. For instance then if you are worried about your social skills then simply throw yourself into social settings – chances are that you will quickly find you are received better than you thought, and this will help you to learn to ignore the self talk. In order to get the courage to go ahead and try regardless of your negative thoughts, realize that really it doesn’t matter if you fall on your face and that even if things go wrong that will be a learning curve and it will be necessary in order to improve.

Step 4: Improve Yourself

Feeling negative about something specific? Well then one solution is of course to just work on improving yourself and to develop the areas that you are less confident about. So for instance if you hate public performance, try joining an acting class, or doing some public speaking. You’ll improve your abilities in that area and then you will be able to let go of your concerns.

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