What dialogue does your inner voice communicate? Are you motivated by your inner voice? Is it serving your purpose? Or, does it whisper words of negativity? Is it harmful rather than helpful to you? Is it more an inner-critic than an inner-voice? When it enters the realm of unreasonable negativity, you’re indulging in negative self-talk. It is only going to drag you down.
We will all experience negative self-talk at points throughout our lives. It comes in many shapes and sizes. Regardless, it looks like it brings us stress and anxiety. If you’re not careful, that stress will spread to the people around you. Here’s what you need to know.
Your Inner Critic
Your inner critic can lend itself to negative self-talk which can trick you into believing it’s grounded, “I’m not very good at this, so it’s safer for me to avoid it.” Your negative self-talk can be cruel, “I never get anything right.” Your negative self-talk can feel realistic, “I’m not good at interviews, so I guess I didn’t get the job.”
Your negative self-talk can be total fantasy, “I’m probably going to fail, so I will never progress.” These musings often sound familiar – like a critical friend, boss, teacher, or parent. It’s easy to start believing them when they mimic words and ideas that you already express to yourself. Negative self-talk tends to catastrophize and blame.
It’s the inner dialogue that limits your progress, derides your abilities, and prevents you from achieving your potential. Negative self-talk is a thought that lessens your ability to affect positive changes in life. It is stressful and stunting your success. Negative self-talk can be damaging.
When you focus on the negative, it kills your motivation. It makes you feel helpless, and it’s likely going to contribute to anxiety and depression symptoms. The consequences of negative self-talk include perfectionism, depression, relationship challenges, and limited thinking.
Shape Self-Talk in Positive Ways
If you want your self-talk to shape you in positive ways, then you have to learn how to minimize the negative aspects of your self-talk.
· Catch the Critic
You can’t stop your inner critic from running loose unless you pay attention and catch yourself in the act. When you become aware of that inner critic raising its negative head, saying things you wouldn’t talk about to a friend or loved one, then stop it in its tracks. ·
· Understand Reality
Sometimes it’s hard to remember this, but your feelings and thoughts aren’t necessarily reality. You may believe them to be astute observations, but they aren’t always accurate. Just like anyone, your views are subject to bias, mood influence, and sometimes skewed.
· Name It
Your inner-critic has a unique skill – it has the innate ability to find the negative in any situation. If it weren’t so disturbing, it would be almost impression. Please give it a nickname, so it’s easier to dismiss it. Negative Nancy, Detrimental Dennis, whatever it is – when it starts the negativity cycle, you can reject it as Negative Nancy is doing it again. It makes your inner critic seem less threatening and also helps highlight how silly some of those thoughts can be.
When you find your inner critic emerging, it can be difficult to stop the chatter. In this situation, try to alter the language. Instead of saying I hate this, say this is difficult. Instead of saying I hate try, I don’t prefer. It’s about toning down the intensity of the language your inner critic is using. You can mute the power of negative self-talk by forcing it to use gentler language.
· Be Your Friend
When it is at its most cynical, your inner critic sounds like your nemesis. It says things that you would never say out loud to someone else. So, use that recognition to your advantage.
When your inner critic reeves up again…
stop these negative thoughts dead in its track! Instead, repeat positive words to replace the negative thought. It is one way to correct negative self-talk.