Negative self-talk can take many forms. Constantly questioning if you are worthy or good enough, do you stack up? What is the ultimate benchmark to measure your voids against! It may present like a realistic appraisal of a situation but what are you really trying to measure here – yourself or how you stack up against your landscape. The spirit of asserting confidence and flaunting convention comes so naturally for some, no tertiary qualification required. This is the throes of life that torment us all when we invite negative self-talk to take a seat at the table. Life can get so busy that we navigate the path on autopilot and go about our day without noticing a single thought traveling through our mind. We all require a modicum of reflection to examine our conscious and unconscious thought patterns and how they colour our life.
Parallel to a rich layered cake our lives are conjured up with vast layers of history, a considerable storage system, it is mostly diminished at the edges by the negative self-talk. The initial step to understanding negative self-talk is simply tuning in and starting to pay attention to our thoughts. The next step is challenging them. Self-talk is the act of using arguments, words and expressions while thinking or talking to yourself. Sometimes self-talk can be helpful to keep us inspired toward goals. However, negative self-talk will sound more like an inner critic. What we do with our pain and choices, contributes to who we are becoming. If you drop dead today and an autopsy is done on you. Once you are cut up where would one find negative self-talk in your body? Merit is found in knowing where it swells in your mind, how to de-construct it.
Our negative self-talk, rather internal critic maybe an all-encompassing manner we act based on what others spoke over us, our perceived lack of abilities. We hold on to the negative vibe’s society dispensed to us even when the landscape has changed. Scientifically our body rejuvenates. Scientists have unravelled that the body’s cells largely replace themselves every 7 to 10 years. Essentially old cells mostly die and are replaced with new ones during this span. The cell renewal process happens more quickly in certain parts of the body, but head-to-toe rejuvenation can take up to a decade or so. Scientifically we are a new creation every decade – wow! Yet our mind remains stuck with so much from the past or who dished out what, where and when. Technically our physical body is renewing itself to benefit us. We need to now galvanise into action to make a material difference replacing the internal dialogue. Don’t have a new body with the stale old mind. Proactively work on renewing your negative self-talk as well.
Take an excursion into your consciousness. Catch yourself with your thoughts, self-introspect, watch your patterns, be aware of your choices and how your negative self-talk hinders your outcomes in life. Personally, when I feel overwhelmed with a task and my mind wants to drag me down a path, I focus on my True North. My favourite scripture is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” This launches me to shake off the negative self-talk and not permit it to derail me. I know that these musings are untrue, and I refuse to let it shape my life in any shape or form. I shift my focus to words with positive valence. Create a habit to conduct constant mental merging akin to a filing system. We throw out what’s not needed and file the important stuff for future use. Reward yourself and purge your mind in the same fashion. Negative self-talk is limiting your ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities to reach your potential. It is any thought that reduces you and your ability to make positive changes and it can really stunt your success.
Our reflections when consistent and thought forms can impact our lives in a profound fashion. Negative self-talk can have some astounding impacts. It can fuel anxiety and depression, cause an increase in stress levels while lowering levels of self-esteem. This can lead to decreased motivation as well as greater feelings of helplessness. Decide and take the necessary actions to be bold for positive lasting change of your inner wellbeing. Remind yourself that thoughts are not facts, set your thoughts into perspective, refrain from a limited thinking pattern – tell yourself you can do it, believed it and do it. Understand that perfectionism does not exist – glean from setbacks and use the lessons learned for lasting enhanced change rather than hemming yourself in with negative labels. Replace the negative labels with positive affirmations. “I am a failure” replace this with “I am a work in progress,” “I can never get it right,” trade this with “I will try and fail rather than fail to try” and “it runs in the blood” swap this with “I am different person and not limited to my family history or past.” Negative self-talk can lead to a lowered ability to see opportunities, as well as a decreased tendency to capitalize on these opportunities.
One of the most apparent disadvantages of negative self-talk is that it’s not positive. Research indicates that positive self-talk is a great predictor of success. For example, one study on athletes compared four different types of self-talk (instructional, motivational, positive, and negative) and found that positive self-talk was the greatest predictor of success. One of my favourite artists is Guy Sebastian. He married a woman he knew while he was growing up. When he became a mega star, I presume the dynamics changed between them and their marriage experienced a breakup. They reunited and restored what was tarnished. Guy wrote a song for his wife, it’s entitled “Believer.” I gleaned from the lyrics that his wife dabbled in the arena of negative self-talk. Then the next verse of this song is Guy’s comeback with positive affirmations … this song has a profound impact on the tugs of the soul and the heart strings. Here is the song introduction, verse, and pre-chorus:
“Take a deep breath ’cause you’re getting ahead of yourself
What gave you the idea, I’d be better off with someone else?
You keep pickin’ yourself apart, say you’re not good enough
Made up the truth in your mind but if you really mean
The words you just said to me
Then show me a light that shines brighter than your green eyes
And find me a pain that cuts deeper than losin’ you
If you think I should leave, sell it to me like a preacher
(Like a preacher, like a preacher)
But you’ll never make me, never make me a believer
You are the reason that I believe in myself
The fighter of all of my demons
You love me through Heaven and Hell
From the center to the surface
Every inch is perfect
If you only looked at yourself
Through my eyes, you would see
There’s no way that I could leave”
Flagellating yourself for lack of discernment is futile, recognise the lasting impact that negative self-talk is having in your life. Focus on negotiating your mind and not on conflicts per se. Virtues may flounder but resolve to flourish when enlightenment knocks on the door. Pick up the pieces to rebuild. Psychologists, regularly assist people in understanding their own thoughts and educate and empower them to continue living their lives with a more positive inner dialogue to help them achieve their goals. If you think you’d like to talk more with a psychologist to see what you can learn, reach out to a practitioner you trust. Alternatively, simply start a conversation with someone you trust.
There are many ways to reduce the self-talk in your daily life. Catch your critic, before it derails you. Foster self-awareness and learn to notice when you are being self-critical so you can make a remedial stop. Remember that thoughts and feelings are most certainly not always reality. Contain your negative patterns and build a mechanism to harness your positive emotional resonance. It takes a vast amount of vitality, power, spirit, and energy to manage a perception of the ideal life – give yourself latitude and transcend negativity to neutrality. It’s often far easier to change the intensity of your language. “I can’t stand this” becomes, “This is challenging.” “I hate…” becomes, “I don’t like…” and even, “I don’t prefer…” When your self-talk uses more gentle language, much of its negative power is muted as well. Replace the bad with something good. Align your brain into a rhythmic vigour, we cannot always choose the music life plays for us all, but you can decide how to dance to it or self-talk to it!