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How To Tame Negative Self Talk In Your Mind

How To Tame Negative Self Talk In Your Mind

Have you ever been plagued by negative self talk or doubt? Perhaps you have refrained from applying for a job as you believe that you are under-qualified for it, opting instead of pursuing more modest opportunities. This is a clear reflection of low self-esteem, while it also highlights the role that our thought processes play in creating our own reality.

This was also explored by an interesting study from 2013, which showed that women who had a poor body image and considered themselves to be fat often squeezed sideways through doorways, despite the fact that they were relatively slim and had ample room to move through.

How to Tame Negative self talk

While defining the problem is easy, however, resolving it is far more difficult. It is important to resist the urge to eliminate self-talk (which can also be used for positive affirmation), and instead understand how this can be controlled and used to influence our outlook for the better. Here are some steps towards achieving this:

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1. Use ‘You’ or your name to create distance and objectivity

One of the main issues with self talk is the use of the pronoun ‘I’, as this creates subjectivity and touches innumerable emotional triggers. It is far better to use your own name or ‘you’ in this instance, as it instantly establishes a sense of distance while enabling you to provide more objective and constructive self-advice. This underlines the subtle science of self talk and allows you to use this as a method for delivering informed feedback.

2. Give clear, concise and instructional self talk

If the first steps helps us to create distance, the second allows us to leverage this to deliver concise and instructional self talk. Delivery is all important, as allowing yourself to mumble and share negative thoughts simply creates further doubt while offering no positive resolutions.

Here’s a personal example. After being promoted at work, I sought to create distance and began to think objectively about why this may have been the case. Self talk then enabled me to consider these as single, concise points, providing insight and offering instructional advice on how to improve myself in the future.

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3. Use present tense messages to create a forward-thinking outlook

On a similar note, you often find that negative self talk is characterised by introspection and reflection on past experiences. It also tends to focus on mistakes that have prevented you from achieving a personal or career goal in the past, creating an overwhelming sense of fear that is hard to escape from.

You can negate this by using present tense messages when engaging in self talk, focusing on what can be done in the moment and adapting your outlook to create a forward-thinking outlook. If you have had a job application rejected in the post, for example, internalise reactionary steps that can drive progress (such as asking for feedback from the employer or identifying new opportunities) rather than dwelling on what has gone before.

4. Turn self talk into an inner conversation

Another issue with self talk is that it can become extremely introspective, meaning that we forget to challenge negative thoughts and comments. If we consider self-talk as more of an internalised, two-way conversation between alternative viewpoints, however, it is possible use this as a platform for proactive problem solving.

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For example, whenever negative self talk statements such as ‘I can’t’ enter your mind, you should respond this immediately with ‘why not?’ This forces you to consider the initial, negative statement more objectively, while challenging you to uncover solutions rather than focusing solely on the problem in hand.

This provides a quick transition from abstract negativity to constructive positive thinking, helping you to cope when negative thoughts inevitably spring to mind.

5. Externalise your self talk in writing

Throughout history, studies have shown that the externalisation of angst and negativity has a positive impact on everything from anger management to treating life-threatening illnesses. Writing is a particularly effective vehicle, thanks to the distance that we create with the written word and the sense of anonymity that it afford us.

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In this respect, externalising negative self talk by committing it to paper is an excellent idea. You can do this through a regular journal or sporadic letters to yourself, so long as you read these documents and provide an outlet for your negativity. For those of you who are courageous and dealing with a specific source of negativity, you may even want to consider publishing your thoughts in a publicly accessible blog.

The key is that you are comfortable with the format, and willing to externalise your negativity in an open and progressive manner.

Featured photo credit: Kevin Lee via stocksnap.io

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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