“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
Self-talk is your inner voice, the messages you send to yourself throughout each day. And for some of us, that voice can be decidedly negative.
You may engage in negative self-talk just some of the time, or it might be all consuming. Either way, negative self-talk tears us down, leads us to feelings of shame, and impacts our relationships with ourselves and others.
No one really likes you; they’re just being nice. Don’t let yourself be a burden.
Messages like these keep us from being courageous in our goals and relationships. If you believe that you will fail or be rejected, you may avoid being getting close to others and choose not to take risks for fear of disappointment.
But fortunately, it is possible to break free of negative self-talk. With vulnerability and a little help, you can move away from shame and live fully.
Here are five steps to stop negative self-talk:
1. Find quiet and stillness
As long as you are reading, watching Netflix, or hanging out at the park with friends, you have something else to focus on besides the negative messages in your mind. Even when you’re not conscious of them, they’re still there.
To be able to hear and recognize your negative self-talk, remove distractions. Find a private, comfortable place to sit, focus on your breathing, and wait for whatever you might hear.
2. Listen non-judgmentally
To be honest, listening to your thoughts may be extremely difficult. It can be hurtful to recognize the kinds of messages you are telling yourself.
While this is a reasonable reaction to have, it’s important to move past it. This will allow you to acknowledge the thoughts without judging where they come from.
You are brave for taking these steps. Celebrate that you are working toward processing and healing from negative self-talk.
3. Focus on one thought at a time
When you first start listening for negative self-talk, you might find many beliefs about yourself to tackle. To avoid overwhelming yourself, choose one thought to focus on and analyze it in a structured way.
Ask yourself these questions:
What negative self-belief am I hearing? What do I feel in my body when I think about it? What past experiences may have contributed to this self-belief? Which parts of it might contain some truth? Which parts do not?
It can be helpful to write the answers to these questions down to make it easier if you need to come back and consider a belief later. If you begin to doubt yourself in the same ways again, you’ll be able to see all of the work you have already done to disprove your negative self-talk.
4. Find a replacement thought
As you begin to disprove beliefs about yourself, space will open up in your identity. Rather than allowing them to be filled with more negative self-talk, fill them with true, positive statements.
If you are replacing a belief about feeling unlovable, point your mind toward considering all of the friendships you have built.
If you struggle with feelings of helplessness, try making a list of your accomplishments from this week, both big and small. Keep that list with you and add to it to help you recognize your achievements in the moment, building your own sense of capability.
And when a disproven negative self-belief tries to sneak back into your mind, as they often do, you’ll have something new to throw at it – a truth-filled, realistic belief about yourself.
5. Share it with someone else
While much of the work to eliminate negative self-talk is done on your own, being vulnerable with others about what is going on is key to overcoming its influence.
Talking to trusted friends and family members, a partner, or a therapist about this issue can help take some of the power away from your negative self-beliefs. This support network can provide invaluable accountability as you regain control of your thoughts and live with a more realistic vision of yourself.
+ + +
While I hope you are not experiencing negative self-talk, I believe it is something many of us struggle with. However, it is possible to identify, analyze, and change it to more positive words so that you can live fully as your wonderful self.