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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to End Negative Self Talk and Reinvent Your Self Image

How to End Negative Self Talk and Reinvent Your Self Image

The types of conversations you have with yourself determine how you live your life. Negative self-talk can be detrimental to your self-confidence and ability to set positive goals for yourself. In this case, it’s important to remember the following idea:

“The way you choose to think and speak about yourself (to yourself and others), IS A CHOICE! You may have spent your whole life talking about yourself in a negative way, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue that path.” ―Miya Yamanouchi

If the conversations in your head are negative, then the chances are high that you will be not living your life to your full potential.

There is no magic formula to turning your life around. If it were that easy then everyone would be choosing to live his or her life to the fullest. Negative self-talk and self-doubt would be eliminated.

To become your own “cheer squad” involves a journey of learning on how to love and take care of yourself so that you can live your life to the fullest.

What Is Negative Self-Talk?

Negative self-talk is the voice inside our head commonly known as our inner critic, that tries to convince us of how “bad” we are. This, of course, leads to poor mental health and cognitive distortions as we learn to identify with the negative aspects we are constantly focusing on.

A great inner critic will convince us to believe that we are any number of things: a failure, ugly, annoying, dumb, etc.

Your negative self-talk limits your ability to believe in yourself and increases stress levels unnecessarily. Any negative thought that questions you, your confidence, and your ability to make positive changes in your life is a sign that your inner critic at work.

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Therefore, stopping negative self-talk is imperative. When you do achieve a more positive view of yourself, your self-belief, confidence, and resilience grows and as a result your life becomes more fulfilled and happier.

What Causes Negative Talk

Carl Rogers, an early pioneer of positive psychology, believed that people were always in the process of changing and growing. He believed that all people possess an inherent need to grow and achieve their potential. He called this self–actualization, which leads people to pursue happiness and fulfilment.

Rogers believed that to successfully strive for self-actualization, a person needed to have the three components of “self concept.”

Self concept was the term Rogers used to refer to how a person thinks about, evaluates, and perceives him or herself. Rogers said that self concept has three components:

  1. Self image: How you see yourself
  2. Self esteem: The extent to which you value yourself
  3. Ideal self: What you wish you were really like

The formation of a healthy self-concept, according to Rogers, is an ongoing process shaped by a person’s life experiences[1].

What Is Self-Concept and How Does It Form?

     

    People with a stable sense of self tend to have greater confidence and cope more effectively with life’s challenges. People who had more unstable lives and more traumatic life experiences tended to have a more pessimistic view of themselves and engaged more in negative self-talk.

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    Rogers believed that people intuitively want to be in the process of changing and growing. Those people whose lives are controlled by their inner critic do have a number of hurdles to overcome before they can take up the challenge of personal change and growth.

    As Carl Rogers pointed out, the first step to change your thinking about who you are is to accept yourself, faults and all, and then you can begin to take the steps to change.

    3 Steps to Manage Your Negative Self-Talk

    There are 3 critical steps you can take to manage your negative self-talk in order to have more control over your life and outlook. I believe that if you take these 3 critical steps, your journey to reinvent your life has already begun.

    Remember that improving your self-belief and self-image takes time and it will not happen overnight, but it will happen if you embrace your journey of change.

    1. Commit to Taking Action

    “Struggle ends where commitment begins.” ―Sumner Davenport

    This quote by Sumner Davenport illustrates the importance of commitment when it comes to transforming your life. Once you commit to your journey of change, then the daily struggle and daily pain that you are living with will eventually disappear.

    Your fears and feelings produced through negative self-talk will be replaced with the feelings of success, happiness, and joy. You will feel more enlightened, optimistic, and hopeful about your life and your future.

    Life will still continue to throw your curveballs, but you will be more resilient and have greater ability to navigate your way through the challenges that life deals to you.

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    2. Start Using Your Power of Choice

    The journey to living life as the best person you can be starts with you. It starts with you using a wonderful gift called the Power of Choice, which we all have and yet some of us are afraid to use.

    Using your power of choice means that you have to step out of your comfort zone and away from negative self-talk. If you choose to do nothing and keep the status quo, you will keep getting the same results.

    Use your power of choice to empower you to start living life the way you want live it. Your power of choice is the one thing you have that you control, and using it wisely will enable you to live your life as the best version of yourself

    When you are faced with a situation that is outside your comfort zone and the inner critic is starting to question you and your abilities, challenge yourself by asking these questions:

    • What is the evidence for and against my thinking?
    • Are my thoughts factual or just my interpretation?
    • How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
    • Do these thoughts stop me from achieving my goals?
    • If I were being positive, what would I be thinking?
    • Is this situation as bad as I am making it out to be?
    • What is the worst and what is the best thing that could happen?
    • Would this matter in 1 week, or 2 months, or 1 year, or 5 years?

    There are many more questions you could ask; however, you must always challenge yourself by asking your negative self-talk about the truthfulness of what it’s telling you. Then using your power of choice to take action.

    3. Use the 5-Second Rule to Embrace Change In Your Life

    The one thing that is a given in your life is change. There is no way you can expect to live your life and not experience any change.

    Our inner self-critic negative self-talk is our protection against change. It is the voice inside our heads that will resist change for as long as it can. The longer you listen to your inner self-critic, the more incapable you will be of responding to and embracing change.

    The journey to embracing change and managing your inner self-critic is a process. It is like training for a marathon. Nobody goes and runs a marathon with no preparation and training.

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    Training involves you getting not only your body fit but you also getting your mind fit. Your mind has to believe that all the training that you are doing is preparing you to successfully achieve your goal—which is to run a marathon.

    You have a choice here—if you don’t manage your self-critic or self-doubt, then your chances of successfully achieving your goal will be limited.

    The 5-Second Rule transformed my life! It is a very simple tool that allows you take control of your inner self critic and take action. If you have a desire to act on a goal or make a commitment, you must take action within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.

    When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.

    There is a window that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind pushing it down. It’s a 5-second window, and it exists for everyone.

    If you do not take action on your instinct to change, you will stay stagnant and your negative self-talk will take over.

    The Bottom Line

    Using the advice above will empower you to take action so you can live your life to the fullest– with confidence, self-belief, courage, and a positive outlook on life.

    Your negative self-talk will never go away completely, but by taking action and committing to making changes in your life, you will have the power to choose the conversations you have with your inner self-critic.

    More on Building Yourself up

    Featured photo credit: Chad Madden via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Very Well: What Is Self-Concept?

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    Kathryn Sandford

    Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

    How to Persevere (and Get Ahead) When the Going Gets Tough How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You 7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life! 5 Steps to Get Unstuck

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    Published on April 15, 2021

    How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

    How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

    When life gets tough and you are facing big obstacles, it is so hard to be an optimistic person. As we try to deal with these challenges, our feelings tend to be consumed by fear, frustration, and disillusionment. Inertia and indecisiveness overwhelm us, and being optimistic is the last thing we feel like being.

    “I think I am going to have to supercharge my optimism to arm myself for the battle ahead.”—Rebecca Bloom

    Why Is It Important to Be an Optimist?

    Being optimistic is one of the best ways in which you can deal with the hard knocks in life. Having an optimistic outlook on life also has amazing health benefits as well.

    Scientific research shows us that staying in a place where we feel fearful and disillusioned—where we have no energy and no hope—is not good for our overall wellbeing.

    “Optimism helps people cope with disease[s] and recover from surgery. Even more impressive is the impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity. Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.”[1]

    Your Power of Choice Is Key to Living an Optimistic Life

    Although you may not be born a natural optimist, using your power of choice wisely can help you develop an optimistic attitude that will enable you to defy any odds that are against you. You are the only person who has control over whether you want to be optimistic or not! As the Dalai Lama has said, “choose to be optimistic it feels better!”

    I love this quote from Neale Donald Walsch as he explains very clearly how the power of choice can be used by you to get the results you want:

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    “Therefore, be honest with yourself as to why you are choosing to do a particular thing. Then, do it gladly, knowing that you are always getting to do what you want. The statement “I have no choice” is a lie. You can choose. You simply do not prefer the alternatives available to you, for whatever reason. So you select the outcome that you most prefer.”—Neale Donald Walsch

    Being an optimist opens you up to exploring new ideas, new experiences, and new possibilities. It frees you up to consider new options for how you can live your life for the better. It helps you look to the future with hope and positivity.

    What Is Optimism?

    The definition of optimism, according to Elizabeth Scott MS, is that it is “a mental attitude characterized by hope and confidence in success and a positive future. Optimists are those who expect good things to happen, where pessimists instead predict unfavorable outcomes.”[2]

    However, being an optimist does not necessarily mean that you will be able to successfully deal with the challenges of life. Having a positive mindset along with an optimistic outlook enhances your chances to defy the odds and challenges you face in life.

    What Is Positive Mindset?

    The Oxford dictionary definition of optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something” while positivity is defined as “the practice of being, or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.”

    Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. Positive thinking is an emotional and mental attitude that focuses on the good and expects results that will benefit you. It’s about anticipating happiness, health, and success—essentially, training yourself to adopt an abundance mindset and cultivate gratitude for your own successes and those of others

    Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. You can’t be an optimist and not have a positive mindset.

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    To defy the odds and sustain an optimistic and positive outlook Gabriele Oettingen, a motivation researcher at New York University and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, believes that it is not just about having happy thoughts—but it is actually planning for and anticipating those positive outcomes that get us results.

    She describes optimism as having positive expectations about the future based on past experiences and positive thinking as wishful dreaming, which is not a bad thing if applied correctly!

    She believes that if we apply optimism (which is a personality trait), we inherit with positive thinking (which is a choice we make) what Oettingen calls “mental contrasting,” which is important for motivation and setting in motion unconscious cognitive processes that are important in goal attainment.[3]

    3 Strategies on How to Be an Optimistic Person

    Applying these 3 strategies will help you to defy the odds you face in life while still being an optimistic person with a positive mindset.

    1. Use the WOOP Model

    Gabriele Oettingen combined her ideas with those of fellow researcher Peter Gollwitzer, and they came up with a motivation exercise called WOOP.

    Using the WOOP Model, you work on goal attainment by applying these 4 steps:[4]

    1. Wishing for something you’d like to achieve.
    2. Imagining a good outcome.
    3. Examining the obstacles that might get in your way.
    4. Coming up with a plan for overcoming those obstacles.

    Research results conducted by Gabriele Oettingen have shown that employing WOOP is more successful than positive thinking alone in helping people to fulfill their desired goals.[5]

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    Knowing how to activate your positive and optimistic outlook on life to get the results you want is key to you building your resilience to manage the hard knocks and challenges that life throws at you. Having a positive outlook on life takes work and the WOOP model is a framework that you can use to put your goals into action so that you can start to feel good about achieving the goals you set in life.

    2. Cultivate a Positive and Optimistic Mindset

    Adopting a positive mindset can help us get through difficult times. However, if we are not careful, we can tend to focus on thinking positive thoughts and banishing all negative ones. This can be exhausting and not a realistic way to deal with life’s challenges

    I believe that the combination of a positive mindset and an optimistic view of life that is realistic is the secret weapon to successfully dealing with the obstacles and pitfalls we face in life.

    Here are 4 things that you could do now that would enable you to grow and sustain a positive and optimistic mindset:

    1. Once a day, share positive feedback with a minimum of three people—work colleague, partner, children, friend, or anyone that you meet on the day. Making other people feel positive has lasting effects on your own life.
    2. Every morning when you wake up and at night just before you go to bed, praise yourself and reflect on all the positive things that happened to you during the day. Keep a journal and note down at least three positive things that you did today or are grateful for.
    3. Imagine a positive future for you – get a journal, and for seven days, write down all the great things you want to happen—tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year! This is the first step to dreaming big with an optimistic outlook on life!
    4. Consider a serious challenge or obstacle you are facing in your life right now and write down at least five possible positive outcomes. This exercise allows you to look at your challenges with an optimistic and positive mindset.

    3. Recognize Negative Thinking

    When you are dealing with challenging times and it feels like the odds are against you, it is hard to maintain an optimistic outlook on your life. You can’t push away or bury your negative feelings—what you resist will persist.

    The best way to be optimistic despite the challenges you are facing is to acknowledge that bad things happen. Ignoring your reality isn’t helpful. Being realistic about your situation is important to you working out how to best work with the difficult situation you are facing. A healthy and realistic outlook of your life is a great way to accept that all you can do is your best and that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome.

    When you are thinking negatively, take a moment to assess how realistic your thoughts are. Reframe your negative thoughts into more realistic statements that can help you maintain an optimistic view of the future and potential solutions.

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    Final Thoughts

    As an optimist, you believe in hope, opportunities, and a brighter future. Choosing to be an optimist is a choice that comes with surprising benefits. Scientific research has shown that an optimistic and positive view of life allows you to live a healthier and happy life, despite the odds that are against you![6] When you are trying to be optimistic, especially when the odds are against you, having a positive thinking mindset is a secret ingredient to you successfully riding that rollercoaster of life!

    Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. There is no doubt that the more optimistic you are about life the happier you will be.

    Applying the three strategies above will help you to remain an optimist while successfully navigating your way through the challenges and tough times in your life.

    “True hopefulness and optimism are what leads one to dare. It is also what lifts one back up to dare again after a failed attempt.”—Bibi Bourelly

    More Tips on Being More Positive

    Featured photo credit: Hudson Hintze via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health
    [2] VeryWellMind: What Is Optimism?
    [3] Positive Psychology: What Is Mental Contrasting and How to Benefit From It?
    [4] WOOP: What is WOOP?
    [5] Greater Good Magazine: Can Positive Thinking Really Make Dreams Come True?
    [6] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health

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