"To forever extinguish negativity
is not the goal;
negative self talk is, like all pain,
It awakens in us the desire to change.
Thus, the goal is not perfect positivity,
it is understanding, humility and incremental growth."
“I could never do that. Don’t even try. You’ll make a fool of yourself.”
“Why can’t you just get it right the first time? What’s wrong with me? I’m so stupid.”
“Don’t bother. They don’t even like you. Just let them be.”
“I don’t deserve happiness. Just look at what I’ve done.”
- Examples submitted by my Instagram followers
Any of these ring a bell?
Almost certainly one will.
If you’re feeling brave, please share in the comments
the negative self-talk you hear or find to be common.
It will help others feel less alone.
WHERE YOU’RE AT
You have become an unknowing victim to your own negative programming.
it wasn’t your fault.
You learned this behavior in your developing years;
the doubtful look of a nervous parent,
the judgement of a frustrated teacher
the disapproval of the cool classmates.
The external voices have become an internal one.
It has become your burden to bear. So, it is your responsibility to do something about it.
It’s no longer your parents that stop you from being yourself,
no longer the teacher who judges you....it’s you…
It’s your creeping doubt that restricts you.
It’s your own faith in your limits that cripples your potential.
THE NEGATIVE IMPACT
Until you choose to do something about it,
you will remain a victim to these unhelpful beliefs,
which steal chance, and waste potential.
You will repeat,
the same mistakes,
as a response to the same narratives in your head,
and unknowingly come to know nothing else
but the preconceived limitations
you have adopted and kept since adolescence….
THE IDEAL VISION
“We need to cultivate a voice which separates achievement from love. That reminds us that we may be worthy of love even if we fail. And that being a winner is only one part, and not necessarily the most important part, of one’s identity.”
-THE SCHOOL OF LIFE, ALAIN DE BUTTON
I want you to imagine what it would feel like, if the next time a negative thought popped into your head, you were able to recognize it instantly, know where it’s coming from, and be able to replace it with a positive, empowering interpretation.
What would that do for your self-esteem?
How would you feel about yourself, if you reprogrammed your mind for confidence and positivity? What kind of job would you stretch for?
What relationships would you cultivate out of this new paradigm? What kind of relationships would you end? What hobbies would you try out? How would your life be lived bigger, more passionate, if unencumbered by the chains of limiting self-talk?
Envision it, feel it, step into the first person perspective of that new self and feel the sensations!...
how important is that solution?
Is it important enough to take action on?
Is it important enough to make a commitment to this vision, right now?
HOW TO GET THERE
If it is, then here’s you can take the first step…
You must begin by understanding self-talk.
The way you talk to yourself is varying in form, and that’s great. It only becomes a problem when you get stuck in an unhelpful form of it. When you unknowingly trap yourself in one pattern of thought, the response you have becomes automatically filtered and dictated through that lens.
When you are stuck in one lens, this is called Cognitive distortion.
Negative self-talk is a cognitive distortion
which twists reality to prove and perpetuate
the negative beliefs you have about yourself.
Can somebody say self-sabotage?
So now that you understand how you maintain self-talk, let’s discover how to beat it.
3 PHASES TO FREEDOM
Phase 1: Train Awareness
This is, arguably, the hardest part.
It requires you to face what you don’t want to see within yourself.
It’s much easier to see negativity and self-limiting within others.
But when your thoughts and attention are consumed within a single narrative,
it’s pretty difficult to take the box off of your head,
especially when it’s scary to do so.
Ok, you can begin by learning the forms of negative self-talk:
Fortune telling (Where you predict your future based on past failures)
Sounds like: “I would never be able to do that.”
Mind reading (Where you project insecurities onto others, and believe they think ill of you in the same way you think ill of yourself)
Sounds like: “She thinks I’m stupid.”
Magnification (Where you exaggerate the importance of a mistake)
Sounds like: “I stuttered twice. I did such a terrible presentation.”
Personalization (Where you think your failures say something about your self-worth)
Sounds like: “Look at me, I couldn’t even submit the project in time. I’m a loser.”
Should statements (Where you hold yourself to unrealistic expectations or only one way of being).
Sounds like: “This shouldn’t be taking me this long. ”
These are a few common ones.
If you’re feeling brave, I challenge you to share with us the form of self-talk you recognize in yourself.
Next, start the game of recognizing and labeling the cognitive distortion within yourself as soon as you can.
Gradually, catch it the next day, then try for 3 hours after, then 30 minutes after, then 5, then as you're saying it, Then as you're thinking it.
If you can catch the negative self-talk in the moment, you unlock a new freedom: the freedom to influence your actions and choose what to do with it.
Last stage of this phase is to raise self-awareness
By discerning the common triggers in your life, and the common form of negative self talk that you respond with, you can anticipate it negative self-talk. When you can anticipate it, it’s going to feel much less frustrating, and more surmountable.
Phase 2: Generate alternative narratives
When you can recognize your self-talk as it’s occurring, you can realize what may be an automatic response, and decouple it from what is fact.
You don’t believe everything you think.
The first thought is not always the right one.
If you can remind yourself that the story in your head is an interpretation,
and not necessarily a 100% accurate representation of reality,
then you can open up a second freedom;
which is to think of alternative interpretations of the situation.
“Ohh, maybe it’s ok that I forgot grandma's birthday, like all we all forget things sometimes, and maybe I’m not a self-absorbed little shit for forgetting.”
One of the ways I do this with my clients is by doing a coaching exercise I call the panorama.
You can take any negative past experience, right now, and try it out while I explain it to you.
First, I ask you to think of a negative, emotional situation you’ve experienced.
Listen to all the opinions of right and wrong in your head.
And understand that this is an interpretation, and not necessarily the whole picture.
So, let’s get creative. Let’s think of alternative perspectives.
Doesn’t matter if they feel inaccurate or even absurd.
Second, I want you to imagine your situation as wrapping around your head, and with each quarter turn there is a different lens by which to see the situation.
Now, make a mental quarter turn to the right, and think of slightly different way to think about the same situation. What evidence are you glossing over, that could tell a different story?
Next, turn 180 degrees from the starting point, and give me a perspective which polarizes the original perspective. Make it so different that it looks absurd from the original perspective.
For your 3 quarters turn, imagine what part of the story might you be over-emphasizing.
Third, choose which perspective is most empowering, and see if there is not some truth to it. Then, decide to commit to this more empowering interpretation, and take the lessons from the truth in that perspective.
Phase 3: Empowerment
In order to empower yourself, we must first generate distance from ourselves, to then choose the most empowering interpretation.
That is why empowerment is necessarily the third freedom.
Now, If you try empowering yourself without first invalidating the limiting self-talk, you will create conflict between the narratives that makes your empowerment feel like false positivity, because you haven’t let go over the old narrative yet, and so you will think that you don’t deserve compassion, another chance, a first chance, whatever it is that liberates you.
It’s like mowing over your weeds instead of ripping out the roots. They’re going to grow back.
If there is incongruence between the story you tell yourself and the story you believe in,
it won’t work.
So, when you can step into the empowering narrative, and believe in, then you can create a new paradigm, and each time your negative self-talk comes up, you can retrain yourself, to create a powerful, peaceful and positive version of yourself.
*If this is something you would like some assistance with,
please contact me for a free consultation.
Liberation from negative self-talk
1. Raising your awareness to its occurrence. Each time try to reduce the amount of time between the negative thought and reaction.
2. challenge the story in your head by generating other interpretations.
3. Choose a more empowering, compassionate interpretation. And believe in the truth of that perspective.
Remember: Awareness, Alternatives, Empowerment.
We are way more common than we are different in our humanity, our frailty, our internal conflicts. So understand, that you are not broken. You’re not abnormal. You’re Human. This is something we all face.
If you are ready to overcome negative self-talk, and would like some assistance, schedule a free session here.
I really gave my heart and soul into this one, and tried to help you solve a huge, foundational problem. So, If you know anybody who could benefit from this message, please, share it with them. Repost it to your community or DM someone you care about. Love grows as we share it, and this works best when we do it together.