Our internal dialogue creates our core being - how we see ourselves, our perceptions, our emotions, self-esteem, outlook, and relationships. Depending on what our self-talk sounds like, it can either be helpful or unhelpful, positive or negative for ourselves. Our self-talk is often harsh and critical, and we tend to put ourselves down. In this blog post, we’ll explore ways to overcome negative self-talk and to shift the focus on rather being kind, helpful, and compassionate with ourselves.
1. Where does negative self-talk come from?
Negative self-talk stems from a core place within us, that’s shaped by past experiences. Such experiences could be: past failures, external judgements, criticism or pressures, bullying, childhood experiences, home life struggles, external expectations, etc.
The consistency of these experiences can create core beliefs within us that affect our self esteem. We may start to believe that we’re not good enough, or we might be hard on ourselves and so forth. The external has thus become our internal.
Learning to identify where our core beliefs and self-talk stem from can help us to understand ourselves, our triggers, and to be compassionate with our thoughts.
It’s important to realize that our negative self-thoughts are caused by things out of our control, such as past experiences. Just because we have such thoughts, it doesn’t mean that they’re true or that we have to believe them.
2. Cultivate Self-Awareness:
One of the first steps in overcoming negative self-talk is to cultivate a healthy sense of self-awareness.
First, know your triggers and be mindful of them. What usually triggers you to talk negatively to yourself?
Second, notice any patterns. Do you have any recurring themes? When is the negative self-talk usually at its worst? What happens after there is negative self-talk?
Third, by being aware of your triggers and patterns, you can then be mindful of how you talk to yourself in response to the trigger and be mindful of any patterns you notice. Recognize the usual script and take control.
Negative self-talk can take a toll on one’s mental health, contributing to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Understanding the connection between our thoughts and emotions is pivotal in cultivating a healthier mindset. By acknowledging the impact of negative self-talk, we empower ourselves to take proactive steps towards positive change.
3. Cultivating Self-Compassion:
At the heart of overcoming negative self-talk lies the practice of self-compassion. Showing kindness, love, understanding, and compassion to ourselves is key to managing our emotions and thoughts, and coping with challenges in an easier and healthier way.
By changing our self-criticism to self-compassion, we can slowly break the cycle of negative self-talk and foster a more nurturing internal dialogue for the benefit of self-esteem and worth.
4. Challenging Your Thoughts:
Our thoughts affect our emotions and in turn, our behaviors. How we think can either be helpful or unhelpful to our emotions and behaviors. This cycle majorly contributes to our mental health and self-esteem. So let’s be mindful of what our thoughts sound like!
Negative self-talk often involves cognitive distortions – irrational and anxious thought patterns that contribute to a negative outlook; externally and internally. By challenging these distortions and replacing them with more rational, understanding, and helpful thoughts; we can reshape our mental landscape.
Yes, we can’t control which thoughts come in but we can control how we respond to and challenge them.
Negative self-talk: “I’m so stupid”
Positive self-talk: “I made a mistake and that’s okay”
This process requires consistent practice and patience.
5. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation:
Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, journaling, and grounding can help with observing one’s thoughts, staying calm and compassionate, and responding to them without judgement.
Mindfulness gives you the practice of being okay and present with yourself.
Journaling can help you with writing down your thoughts visually and responding to them rationally.
Grounding techniques such as spending time outdoors; sensory activities; and breathing exercises can help with any anxious or overwhelming feeling that triggers your thoughts.
Negative self-talk is something many of us struggle with and it’s impact can affect the ways we live and respond to our lives. It is crucial to identify the roots of it as well as its patterns; and to learn to practice self-compassion, prioritizing helpful thoughts and letting go of the usual self-criticism.
Remember, this is about breaking a concrete cycle - it will take patience, consistency, and practice. Let’s build our inner core with positivity, understanding and love. I am sure that with these techniques you can create an empowering and healthy mindset and self!