What is Negative Self-Talk?
Negative self-talk is a way in which we bring into our way a lot of mental and emotional sufferings. We are our inner critic which constantly reminds us whether what we are eating is healthy for us or not, or what we are about to do would be wise or not. This advice is helpful. But sometimes this inner voice can turn harmful rather than being helpful, particularly when it gets into excessive negativity. This is known as negative self-talk, and it plays a big role in bringing us down.
Negative self-talk is something most of us experience at some time or other. It comes in many forms and it is associated with stress not only to us but also to those around us.
Negative self-talk may take many forms such as:
Grounded: Someone feels, he is not good at a certain thing or he should avoid attempting it for his safety.
Downright: If someone feels he cannot do anything
A Realistic Appraisal Of The Situation: A person not scoring well and makes a judgment that he is not good at that subject.
Fear-Based Fantasy: fear of failure and a difficult future
Negative self-talk or the inner critic follows a path of typical cognitive distortions such as catastrophizing, blaming, or similar. It is basically a thought which diminishes self and the ability to make positive changes in life as is can be really stressful, stunting success.
Toxic Effects Of Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can be pretty damaging. Studies have linked it with stress and low levels of self-esteem.(1) This leads to decreased motivation and feeling of helplessness and can further cause depression. It stresses a person as it alters reality and creates an experience where he doesn’t have the ability to reach the goals set by him.
Following are the negative consequences of negative self-talk:
- Limits Thinking: If you only remind yourself that you would not be able to do something, lesser you will be able to do it. More you hear it more you will believe it.
- Perfectionism: You begin to believe that ‘great’ is not ‘perfect’ and perfection is unattainable. Which is why reaching goals becomes very difficult and more than that getting a satisfactory feeling is even more difficult.
- Depression: Negative self-talk can lead to stress which can cause depression. If left unchecked it can be more damaging.
- Relationship Challenges: Self-criticism can make you needy and insecure and the negative self-talk can turn into some negative habits which can bother others and affect the relationship.
How To Deal With Negative Self-Talk?
There are different ways in which negative self-talk can be reduced:
- Recognize the critic in you. If you notice yourself being self-critical learn to stop. Think about whether you would say the same thing to a friend or a child.
- Always remember the thoughts that come to your mind are the influence of your mood. These thoughts and feeling should not be considered accurate.
- Limit negative self-talk. If you realize it coming, control it. Allow yourself to criticize only one hour a day. Distract your thought otherwise whenever they creep up.
- Change the intensity of language. It is not possible always to stop the train of thoughts. You can bring the thoughts to neutrality such as ‘i hate …’ to ‘I don’t like…’, ‘I can’t stand it to ‘this is challenging’. As the self-talk becomes gentle, its damage also lessens.
- When you talk negatively about self, also, question self, how true it is. This is called cross-examining your inner critic. Most of the times the self-talk is exaggerating and can cause a great extent of the damage.
- Sometimes saying the thoughts coming to your mind out loud can help. Talking out your thought with a friend can also be beneficial.
- Stopping the track of negative thoughts can also be of help. This is known as thought-stopping. Simply changing to another thought when a negative train enters the mind or visualizing a stop signal.
- Replace the bad thought with the good ones. This is the best route to combating the negative self-talk. It is a good way of developing positive ways of thinking about yourself and life.