Stopping Negative Self-Talk


From Love Your Body Day 2008

Too many of us do it: berate and belittle ourselves until what’s left is simply defeat.  Eradicating negative self-talk (from I’m fat to I’m not loveable, from I’m incompetent to I’m stupid) is some of the most important work we can do because it gets us out of our own way and allows us to move from paraylsis to action in our lifes.  Several of the first 15 days in Beautiful You guide the reader in identifying and eradicating their negative self-talk.  Today, I wanted to share with you why it matters and some steps on how to do it. 

The reality is that we manifest what we think.  For example, if we think we can never be successful, then we’re not going to become succesful, so it is particularly important that we be extra mindful of what we say to ourselves.  Criticizing ourselves is really disempowering so getting a handle on our negative self-talk is the first step to empowering ourselves to realize our full potential. 

Recognize it.

These negative loops can become so common that we don’t even recognize that they are playing in our head.  The negativity just becomes the soundtrack to our life.  So, the first thing you have to do is catch yourself in the act.  Raise your level of awareness so that you are tuned in to the racket in your head.  Now, you have choices as to how you can respond.       

Name it.  By this, I mean, literally give that voice in your head a name.  You might call it Sally or Edna or Agnes.  And when she pipes up next time, put her in her place.  Because here is the deal, very rarely is that voice in our head REALLY our voice.  It’s our 3rd grade teacher, an old boyfriend, a snippy classmate.  It’s rarely our criticism that is playing in our head.  When we say “Stop it, Agnes,” we accomplish three things.  We stop the negative talk before it goes too far (although any negative self-talk is too far, we remind ourselves that it is not our voice or values speaking, it is someone else’s judgment that we are giving too much room in our thoughts, and we remind ourselves, “I can take care of myself.”     

Consider it.  Sometimes, there is some truth in what we are noticing, but our negative self-talk had taken our language entirely too far and to a defeating place. Instead, we need to shape our self-awareness in a way that we can grow from it.  So, yes, maybe I was impatient with my child but does that mean that I am the worst mother in the world? No, it means that I need to find a solution that works better for us in those sorts of moments:  maybe it means that I need to go to bed earlier or have a bit more personal time or give us a little more time to get out of the house in the morning.  The point of self-awareness is to empower us in our growth, not defeat us into stagnation.   

Shift it.  It’s also important for us to have a bigger perspective.  So let’s take that earlier parenting example.  Yes, maybe you were impatient in that one moment with you son but you’ve also done some pretty amazing things as a mother and those things deserve to be claimed.  So, when you are wallowing in what you’ve done wrong, shift your attention to the things you’ve done right.       

Blow past it.  We are simply not meant to be perfect; it would defeat the very purpose of life. Every day is a work in progress, and what we are meant to be doing is learning and refining.  Rather than revel in the negativity, revel, instead, in your possibility.  Treat yourself compassionately as you learn more about yourself- your challenges and strengths- and remember that you always get to decide how to begin again and that every single moment is a new beginning.

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3 responses to “Stopping Negative Self-Talk”

  1. PJ

    Oh dear. This post made me cry. I suspect that’s a pretty big red flag on how much I know that I treat myself very badly. But I too am a work in progress. And I’m learning that the ED in my head is not me. And that most of the time I’m pretty okay and I need to stop fixating on the little things that I do wrong and accept them as part of life not the end of the world.
    Really great post Rosie. I’ve bookmarked it 🙂

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