I have been a negative self-talker for years.
For those of you out there who can relate, you know how bad it can be. It always boggles my mind when I think about that negative inner voice of mine. The way it speaks such deplorable things to me – things that I would NEVER, EVER, even fathom saying to any other living being.
Isn’t it the strangest thing? That we often hold ourselves to a different standard – one that doesn’t deserve love, kindness, and understanding. I learned though, it all comes down to self-love.
Read more: HOW EMBRACING MY ANXIETY CHANGED MY LIFE
I’ve written about self-love on this blog before. And some of you may already know about my recovery from burnout and lifelong journey of self-acceptance. But, today, I wanted to write about negative self-talk and the steps you can take to reduce it.
What is self-talk?
Self-talk is the inner dialogue we have with ourselves throughout our day. It helps us understand and process our daily experiences. When it’s positive, this inner voice is your best friend and biggest cheerleader. It boosts your confidence and treats you with love and kindness.
When it’s negative, this inner voice can cause some real damage.
It can break you down and make you feel worthless. It can lead to self-hatred and destroy your self-esteem.
But, is our inner critic really that bad?
Sometimes our inner critic can be productive, for instance, when it reminds you that you’ll feel shitty after eating all that junk food – it’s helping you to make a wise decision for yourself. And, let’s face it, as much as we wish we could, it’s just not realistic to think positively every single moment of every day.
The issue arrives when your inner critic intensifies and the negativity becomes excessive. When your thinking becomes irrational and unrealistic – this is where the problem lies. The good news is there are ways to help combat negative self-talk.
Here are 4 steps to take to fight that inner negative voice:
# 1 – Recognize it
Before you can start working towards a solution, you must first recognize that there is a problem. Becoming aware of your negative self-talk is the first step to starting to challenge it. Because our thoughts are often automatic, paying attention to them is essential to working towards more rational thinking.
Do you recognize a pattern of negative thinking? Can you see how some of your thoughts are irrational and unrealistic? Once you’ve recognized this thinking, you can then start to challenge it.
# 2 – Challenge it
Negative thinking is irrational. It is often not based in reality. Once you’ve recognized a negative thought, ask yourself, is this thought based on facts? Is it realistic? Is it productive?
Make a list of ways your thought is true, and then another list on the ways your thought is false. Then, reflect back on what you’ve written. By doing this, you will begin to realize the ways these thoughts often have no evidence to support them – they are irrational ways of thinking meant to be harmful to you. Challenging these thoughts will help you begin to work on replacing them with more rational ways of thinking.
# 3 – Replace it
You’ve recognized your negative thought, and you’ve challenged it, let’s now work on replacing it with a more realistic and productive thought.
I am worthless is replaced with I am proud of who I am
I am a failure is replaced with I am resilient and will be okay no matter what
I am weak is replaced with I am brave and getting stronger each day
I will never get out of debt is replaced with I’m feeling more in control of my finances after meeting with my financial advisor
Replacing these thoughts, much like saying a positive affirmation, is a way of working to change your automatic negative thoughts into ones that are more positive, realistic, and productive.
# 4 – Practice
Working to change negative thinking patterns doesn’t happen overnight. It’s also not realistic to think that these thoughts will ever go away completely. But, with practice, the negative inner voice becomes less automatic and less forceful. Like enhancing any other skill, you’ve got to spend time practicing.
How do you practice?
- One way, as I’ve already mentioned above, is to make two lists when you have a negative thought – one of how your thought is true, the other with how your thought is false. And then reflect on how realistic your thought is. Often you will find no evidence to support your negative thinking.
- You can keep a daily journal to track your negative thinking and to jot down more positive, realistic thoughts next to each.
- You can also start each day with a positive affirmation or two, to build a healthier, more productive way of thinking.
To my fellow negative self-talkers out there, you can, and you will fight through it. I believe in your ability to love yourself and to treat yourself with kindness. It all starts with choosing to make your well-being a priority.
Making an effort to follow these steps regularly, until you get to a point where your negative thinking is no longer debilitating, is a way of reaching a place where positive, rational thinking becomes more automatic. And if you need some support along the way, reach out to a loved one or counsellor for guidance.
The next time you face a negative thought, remember to R.C.R.P – Recognize it, Challenge it, Replace it, and Practice. You’ve got this, lovely! Thanks for stopping by <3
What helps you with your negative self-talk? Let me know below!
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is written from personal and lived experience. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional mental health services, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or mental health, you should always consult with a health-care professional.