Negative Self Talk: How To Recognise And Minimise It

Negative Self Talk: How To Recognise And Minimise It

Pooja Maheshwary

Take a minute and think about what you’ve said to yourself today. Was it self-critical? Or was it kind and helpful? How did you feel after you engaged in this inner discussion? Mindset and Performance Expert, John Assaraf, says,

Be careful what you say about yourself because someone very important is listening. YOU.

Assaraf’s quote resonates and with good reason too. Our inner critic plays a vital role in our life. Our thoughts are the source of our emotions and moods. And the conversations we have with ourselves can be destructive or beneficial depending on whether they’re negative or positive.

To understand better the power of self-talk, we reached out to Mindset and Manifestation Coach, Mansi Dhanak. We asked her to share her expert inputs on what constitutes self-talk and how it affects us, examples of negative self-talk, how we can shift our negative inner dialogue to a more positive one—and she had a lot to share! Scroll down to read all about it.

What Is Self-Talk?

Self-talk is basically our internal dialogue. It’s influenced by our subconscious mind, and it reveals our thoughts, beliefs, questions, doubts and ideas. Our self-talk can be both negative and positive. It can be encouraging, and it can be distressing. Most of us to keep a running dialogue inside our heads. This dialogue can range from giving ourselves instructions while we carry out a task to random observations about our environment or a situation.

Effects Of Self-Talk

Our success and overall life quality depend on how we talk to ourselves every day. Each of us has a set of messages that play over and over in our minds.  This internal dialogue, or personal commentary, frames our reactions to life and its circumstances. They influence how we feel about ourself and how we respond to events in our life.

Thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” or “I really messed up that conversation/meeting/email reply” are examples of negative self-talk. Once any negative thought weasels its way into your mind, it’s all too easy to start spiralling. That’s where positive self-talk comes in as a tool for switching that internal narrative.

Positive self-talk is a powerful tool for increasing our self-confidence and curbing negative emotions. People who can master positive self-talk are thought to be more confident, motivated, positive and productive.

Negative Self-Talk Examples

Before you can learn to practice positive self-talk, you must first identify negative thought patterns. This type of thinking and self-talk generally fall into four categories:

  • Personalising: You blame yourself for everything.
  • Magnifying: You focus on the negative aspects of a situation, ignoring any and all of the positive aspects.
  • Catastrophising: You expect the worst, and you rarely let logic or reason persuade you otherwise.
  • Polarising: You see the world in black and white, or good and bad. There’s nothing in between and no middle ground for processing and categorising life events.

Taking a more balanced self-talk approach can be very beneficial in case the positive self-talk doesn’t resonate.

How To Minimise Negative Self-Talk

If you’re unsure of how to rewire the inner talk, you can take one step at a time.

Utilise Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are a great way to switch up our self-talk chatter. Before a situation even arises that might incite negative self-talk, practice positive affirmation in the mirror to encourage a positive approach to yourself.

Switch Gears

Now that you have a better idea of how your inner thoughts are skewed, it’s time to switch gears and learn a new approach to self-talk. Look back at the thoughts on your list and reword them in a kinder, more positive light.

Try This Exercise

Write down some of the negative messages in your mind that undermine your ability to overcome your depression or anxiety. Be specific, whenever possible, and include anyone you remember who contributed to that message. Now, take a moment to intentionally counteract those negative messages with positive truths in your life.  Don’t give up if you don’t find them quickly.  For every negative message, there is a positive truth that will override the weight of despair.  These truths always exist; keep looking until you find them. For example:

1. Instead of saying,

What a fool I am! I really messed up that presentation. That’s the end of my career,

try saying,

I can do better than that. I’ll prepare and rehearse more next time. Maybe I’ll get some public speaking training too. That would be ideal for my career.

2. Instead of saying,

I failed and embarrassed myself,

try saying,

I’m proud of myself for even trying. That took courage.

3. Instead of saying,

You are not good enough,

try saying,

I choose to accept and grow from my mistakes.

Levels Of Positive Self-Talk

To sum it up, these are the levels of positive self-talk:

1. Negative Acceptance

Acknowledge the fact that it is okay to have negative thoughts and stop yourself when you find yourself having a negative chat with yourself.

2. Recognition And Need To Change

Know that you need to make changes to rewire the pattern of negative self-talk. Take charge to reshape your thoughts and train your brain to make a shift.

3. Decision To Change

Simply be conscious of your thoughts and change them into positive alternatives till you find yourself automatically having healthy conversations and positive self-talk.

4. The Better You

Appreciate and celebrate yourself, observe how it brings more goodness in all areas of life. A few changes you can expect: confidence within, respect from people around you, progress in personal and professional life, etc. Love this version of yourself and be your own cheerleader.

5. Universal Affirmations

Practice saying affirmations every morning and night which will act as a positive mood-booster.

I am a winner. I am proud of myself. I appreciate myself. I approve of myself. I am doing my best.

Implement these intentional actionable steps and practice them to experience profound changes in your life.

Have you tried practising positive self-talk? We’d love to hear your experience! Please share it with us in the comments below.

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