Do you suffer with negative self talk? (And how to stop the cycle).

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Every person on this planet – no matter how old you are, what you do for a living, how you spend your days, or where you live – experiences negative thoughts from time to time. Whether it’s as simple as a bad day at work or something that runs a bit deeper, we’ve all fallen victim to the vicious judgment of our own worst critics…ourselves!

Since we spend every second of every waking day in our own heads, you’d think we would be a little kinder to ourselves, huh? Sadly, this just isn’t the case for most of us and it most certainly isn’t the case for those of us that wear the hat of a caregiver on a regular basis. When the wellbeing of those we love is put entirely in our hands, it’s easy to become hyper-critical of ourselves and our actions. We may be inclined to tell ourselves that we aren’t doing enough, that we’re failing our loved ones in some way. No matter how hard we’re trying, it may never feel like enough…we may never feel like enough.

What Exactly Is Negative Self Talk?

So, what exactly is negative self talk? Put simply, it is the voice of your own inner critic. You know, that little voice inside your head that judges your every action.  It tells you that you aren’t pretty enough or smart enough or compassionate enough or sexy enough or good enough or driven enough. That nagging voice that says, “I told you so!” whenever even the smallest thing goes awry. That annoyingly bad friend who tells you that you will never amount to anything or achieve the things you’ve dreamt of. Essentially, your own worst enemy.

Sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, the bulk of our days can spiral into a pattern based in this sort of negative self talk. In fact, the vast majority of our thoughts today are comprised of the same ones we had yesterday! And don’t just take my word for it, a study done by the National Science Foundation found that:

The average person has 65,000 thoughts per day. Up to 95% of these are the same as yesterday.
— The National Science Foundation

So, what were you thinking about yesterday (and, therefore, are thinking about today)? Were you telling yourself how capable you are? That you’re doing your very best and are deserving of the best the world has to offer? How you’re killing it at work and at home? That your life has immense purpose and you exude positivity and grace?

…or was your inner critic running the show?

What we think about ourselves has a tremendous impact upon our own lives, as well as those we love. If we believe in our hearts that we are not good enough or fat or ugly or stupid or unsuccessful, then that is the energy we emit into the world. Everyone and everything around us picks up on this energy and, let me tell you, it isn’t a very pleasant feeling to experience. This is especially true of people in our lives that are sensitive to energetic or emotional shifts, and can be strong enough to turn their good days into bad ones! That’s why we have a duty – to ourselves and to the people we love – to address these negative thought patterns and clear negative self talk from our daily vocabulary.

Energy is contagious, positive and negative alike. I will forever be mindful of what and who I am allowing into my space.
— Alex Elle

OVERCOMING NEGATIVE SELF TALK

Thankfully, there is another way. We no longer need to live in this vicious cycle of negative self-defeating talk for the rest of our lives, and our loved ones no longer need to vicariously experience this negativity through us.

Here are some steps to quiet your inner critic and actually reframe your thoughts:

  1. Be aware of your thoughts – start to think about what you are thinking. Begin noticing what you are telling yourself.

  2. Catch yourself being negative and stop the thought immediately.

  3. Challenge the negative thought.  I teach my children that their inner critic is like a bully and the best way to deal with this bully is to confront it dead on. They say, “Stop! That is wrong and not true.” As an adult, I access the voice of my inner teen to confront the negative thoughts.  My sassy teenage self would not put up with anyone talking to her this way and responds by pointing out how ridiculous the thoughts are. “I don’t think so - you’re wrong!”

  4. Focus on the positives. Begin to focus on what is right in your life and what you are grateful for. Write in a daily gratitude journal finding 3 specific examples of things you are grateful for each day. Gratitude promotes optimism and helps you to develop a more positive outlook. And the positive effect is multiplied when you share the gratitude with others – especially family – but also friends, colleagues, clients and others.

Notice if there are patterns to your negative thoughts. Are they revolving around a particular feeling? By bringing them to your awareness and confronting the energetic sources of negative self talk such as emotional and physical trauma, negative beliefs, and core beliefs, we can clear these thought patterns once and for all. By tackling these negative energies from the source, we can experience true and lasting peace for ourselves and those we love.

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Ginette Kort