Every day we are having a constant dialogue with ourselves. We are constantly critiquing ourselves and our every move. While it’s natural for us to sometimes be our own worst critics, excessive negative thoughts can severely impact our self-esteem, mood, and success in daily life. Our self-talk is so frequent and effortless that often we are not actively aware of the messages that we send to ourselves. We may be sabotaging ourselves without even realizing it!
Some types of negative self-talk:
- “Life sucks” – Constantly making statements that everything in life is bad and nothing ever goes our way. We will be setting ourselves up for a lifetime of failure with this type of thinking.
- “I’m not good enough” – This involves a feeling of inferiority, often compared to others but sometimes to our own standards.
- “It’s too difficult” – We can sometimes sabotage our efforts before even attempting an endeavor based on fears of failure or just the discomfort of taking on a challenge. Nothing that is worth doing is ever easy…TAKE A CHANCE!
- “It’s all my fault” – Stay away from this dangerous trap. Take responsibility where it is appropriate but accept that sometimes things just don’t go as planned.
- “It’s not my fault” – This is another trap to be aware of. In this situation, we completely avoid responsibility for our choices and often place the blame on others.
- “I FEEL stupid, therefore I must BE stupid” – This is a much more subtle type of self-talk but just as dangerous. We must be careful to not make assumptions about our character based on our feelings at the moment.
- All or nothing thinking – This may sound something like, “I failed at one thing, which means I’m a failure in general.” Be sure to keep the events in your life separate! A failure should be a learning opportunity, not a reason to dampen your self-image.
The first step in changing your thinking is to become aware of it, Start catching yourself when the negative self-talk begins and stop it immediately! Once you get more comfortable in your awareness of negative thinking patterns, begin actively working on changing the thoughts into positive or at least realistic statements. For example: instead of saying “life sucks”, try, “this situation I’m in isn’t great but I am going to get through it”. Another acceptable rephrasing might be, “Life can be rough at times, but it also has some great moments.” Don’t expect all of your thoughts to be perfect and completely optimistic. You are human…give yourself a break and just try to be realistic. Before long, you will notice a significant change in your attitude about yourself and life as a whole!