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Last Updated on December 3, 2020

Why Negative Self Talk Is Bad for You (And How to End It in 3 Steps)

Why Negative Self Talk Is Bad for You (And How to End It in 3 Steps)

Everyone I have met in my life wants unlimited opportunities, better relationships, a healthy body, a forgiving heart, a sharp mind, amazing skills, and financial security. If we all want these things, why can’t we accomplish them? The answer is simple: negative self talk.

The reason why many of us can’t get there is because we have a critical inner voice inside our head that tends to be negative and convincing.

Our inner voice is trying to convince us that we are not smart enough, strong enough, or good enough to do what we want to do in life. This invisible enemy inhibits us from pursuing the life we deserve, leading to anxiety, depression, and a higher stress level.

If we want to reach our potential and improve our mental health, we have to take control of this inner voice and learn how to tame it and transform it into a positive force.

It is important for us to learn more about this negative self talk before we can tame it to become a helpful positive force. Let’s start with the 4 different types of negative self-talk.

Types of Negative Self Talk

Studies show that there are four main types of negative self talk[1]:

  1. Filtering
  2. Personalizing
  3. Catastrophizing
  4. Polarizing

Let’s go through these one-by-one.

Filtering

You magnify the negative aspect of every situation. For example, you gained three pounds this week. You focus on this, and you ignore that you have lost 20 pounds this month.

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Personalizing

You always blame yourself for everything. For example, you hear that your soccer practice got canceled, and you assume that it is canceled because no one wanted to be around you.

Catastrophizing

You always expect the worst. For example, you have a flat tire in the morning, and you automatically assume the rest of your day will be horrible.

Polarizing

You either see things as perfect or horrible. For example, you got mad at your son and lost your temper; therefore, you are a horrible parent.

Next time you catch yourself talking negatively to yourself, ask yourself:

  • Am I filtering the positive out of this issue?
  • Am I blaming myself for something that I have no control over?
  • Am I expecting the worst of this?
  • Am I seeing things as black and white?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, take a step back and consider what you can do to turn your thinking from negative to positive.

It is important to take control of these thoughts before they become beliefs. A belief is something that you are certain about. The sooner you address these negative thoughts, the sooner you can move your life and business forward.

3 Steps to End Negative Self Talk

It is clear that negative self talk hinders your progress and prevents you from living the life that you deserve. Here are three methods you can use daily to overcome this innate habit.

1. Respond to Your Inner Voice

In a recent HBR article, Erica Ariel Fox stated that the toughest conversations any of us can have are the ones that we have with ourselves[2].

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She mentions a story about Dominique, a high performing executive who has great self-confidence but a critical inner voice. Dominique commands everyone’s attention and respect, but not her own.

Dominique has a serious problem when she talks to her captivated audience. She has an inner voice in her head saying, “Why should they listen to you?” I’m a fraud. I can’t do this.”

Dominique’s inner voice will impact her performance if she does not learn how to turn it to positive self talk.

It is clear that Dominique is filtering out all of her positive abilities and polarizing the situation. She has a lot of good things to offer, and she is not a fraud. So, the author gives her one enormous piece of advice:

“Do not ignore your inner voice, respond to it.”

Many executives do not shy away from having hard conversations with others, but they avoid having difficult conversations with themselves.

She advises people not to ignore their negative self-talk, but to respond to it. If your inner voice says, “That was terrible parenting,” you can respond with, “I’m not a perfect parent, and I’m okay with it.” This will make you feel awkward at first, but it gets easier with time.

Instead of ignoring your negative self talk, try learning to identify and respond to it kindly. Practice positive self-talk every day. Do not allow negative self-talk to rob you of your potential.

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2. Be Kind to Yourself

Do not say anything to yourself that you would not say to your best friend. We often say things to ourselves that are unkind, unfounded, and untrue.

When you are passed over for a promotion, be kind to yourself. When you forget to drop your clothes at the dry cleaner, be kind to yourself. We all make mistakes, we are all imperfect, we all have bad days, but it does not make us bad people.

When Jon Gordon[3] was 29 years old, he was facing a divorce. His wife was tired of his negativity. He made a decision to change. He developed a positive mindset, and he started to drown out negative thoughts with positive words.

This approach saved his marriage and changed his life. He encourages his readers to be kind to themselves and to be positive. Gordon understands that being positive won’t guarantee that you will succeed, but he knows that being negative will guarantee your failure and destroy your relationships.

If your friends cancel a dinner plan, don’t assume that no one wants to be around you. Stop personalizing events, and start framing it correctly. Your friends canceled your planned dinner because they are busy, and it has nothing to do with you.

Always choose to be kind to yourself. If you are having a hard time being kind to yourself, surround yourself with positive, kind people who are willing to support you and provide you with immediate kind feedback when you start having negative thoughts. Extensive research shows that positive people surround themselves with positive friends that help inspire them to be positive.

3. Stop Trying to Be Perfect

If your goal is to be perfect, you will fail. Do not expect perfection.

No one is perfect. Embrace imperfection. The key to a positive mindset is progress and not perfection. If you expect perfection, you will be allowing your negative self-talk to seep back into your mind.

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As a perfectionist, you will strive to keep everyone happy, and that is an unrealistic goal. Every time you have an argument with someone, you will keep replaying the conversations in your head over and over. These conversations will be negative in nature. If you want to stop this negative self talk, stop trying to be perfect.

Most perfectionists keep comparing themselves to other people. This habit is an official invitation to your negative self talk to reenter your mind again. Do not compare yourself to anyone. You will always find others who are better off than you.

Instead, focus on being grateful for the great things that you have.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery expressed this in his bestselling book Airman’s Odyssey:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Be content of what you have, and stop worrying about comparing yourself to others. Always be grateful, and when you catch yourself with negative thoughts, think of all the things you are grateful for.

If you want some inspiration about what to be grateful for every day, here they are: 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

The Bottom Line

Next time you catch yourself being negative, do not ignore your inner voice. Respond to it kindly, and give up the need to be perfect.

You’ve got this!

More Tips for Living a Positive Life

Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Luay Rahil

Luay Rahil is a speaker, and the Founder of Lead with Integrity.

Why Are You Stuck? 5 Questions to Shift Your Mindset And Get Unstuck Why Negative Self Talk Is Bad for You (And How to End It in 3 Steps) How to Find Happiness in Your Everyday Life

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

How To Focus on the Positive To Achieve Your Goal In Life

How To Focus on the Positive To Achieve Your Goal In Life

Focusing on the positive seems harder than ever. A global pandemic, civil unrest, and political tensions galore have made thies year tough.

In spite of all the challenges this year has thrown at you, there are ways you can stay positive and continue to pursue your life’s goals. Remember, more trials are yet to come. You need to be able to overcome them all in order to turn your dreams into realities.

Motivation can be tough to come by in times like these. Here’s how you can keep your head up and keep moving forward:

1. Perform an Attitude Check

Whenever you hit a snag in your life, take a step back. Think about how you’re reacting to the situation. Are you thinking rationally? Is your behavior warranted? Are your actions helping or hurting your cause?

If you take the time to evaluate yourself, you’ll be able to stop negativity in its tracks. With a little practice, you’ll learn to reframe pessimistic thoughts into more positive, realistic ones.

2. Keep a Journal

Even on the bleakest of days, you can come up with one shred of silver lining. All it takes is a little reflection.

At least once a day, make a point to jot down something good about your day in your journal. By focusing on your blessings, you’ll start to see more and more of them.

Also, use this journal to record progress you make toward your life goals. If you want to become a professional athlete, write down your day’s workout routine. Day by day, you’ll see just how much progress you’ve made. Look back at your journal entries on tough days, and they will remind you of how far you’ve come.

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3. Surround Yourself With Similar People

When you’re on your own, it’s much easier to get discouraged. The solution is to find a support group.

Communities exist for every conceivable interest. If you’re a freelance writer, Writers Guild of America can help you hone your skills. If you’re a combat veteran, All the Way Home can get you outdoors with other wounded warriors. If you like trivia, join a local quiz bowl team.

Don’t underestimate The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You.

4. Quantify Your Goals

Pursuing your goals will get frustrating if you don’t give yourself specific markers of success. The solution is to put hard numbers to your goals.

For example, if your life goal is to become wealthy, how rich is rich enough? Will you be satisfied with $1 million? What about $10 million? Unless you have a figure in mind, you’ll never feel like you have enough.

Even more ambiguous goals can be quantified. Maybe being happy for you means getting out of debt and spending at least 10 hours per week with family and friends.

Learn about how to set goals in this article: How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully

2. Remember Your ‘Why’

While reaching for your goals, you can’t lose sight of your “why.” This is what pushes you through the bad days and motivates you to keep going. Without a “why,” your goals might start to seem arbitrary.

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If you have a goal to run a marathon, what gets you on your feet every morning? Is it to get in shape? Perhaps it’s to feel a sense of accomplishment as you cross the finish line. Keeping your “why” top of mind will get you out the door when you don’t feel like training.

3. Tell Others About Your Progress

Public recognition is a powerful thing. When you hit a new milestone, share it publicly. Not only will you feel good doing so, but you’ll be more motivated to reach the next one.

Say you have a sales quota at work. Announce when you’ve hit 50%, 75%, and 100% of your goal, and encourage others to do the same. Celebrating together encourages the whole team to stay positive and to reach higher.

4. Develop a Mantra

“Just do it.” Sound familiar? Nike’s motto is also an excellent example of a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat to yourself for motivation when times get tough.

Mantras are commonly used by professional athletes who need to keep a level head while performing under extreme physical stress.[1] But mantras work just as well to get people through mentally or emotionally taxing periods.

Make your mantra meaningful and easy to remember. When you need a boost, you can say it out loud or simply think it to yourself. You can get some inspirations from these 50 Self-Affirmations to Help You Stay Motivated Every Day.

5. Try Meditation

When you get too wrapped up in the negative, it can be tough to think your way out of it. When that happens, turn to meditation. Meditation helps you calm your mind and see problems with fresh eyes.

The best part is, there’s no “wrong” way to meditate. You can do a guided meditation, or simply shut yourself away in a quiet place and listen to your breathing.

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If you’re not sure where to start, download a meditation app. Popular options include Headspace, Calm, and Sattva. After a few sessions, you’ll feel the difference.

6. Make Time for Yourself

Pursuing your goals and fighting off the worries of the world can take a toll on your wellbeing. A little “me time” can get you back on track.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off. Use this day to indulge in a hobby, a favorite TV show, or even just a nap. When you get back to the grind, you’ll be that much more productive.

Learn How to Take Time for Yourself and Restore Your Energy.

7. Get Enough Sleep

How many people do you know who do their best work when they don’t get enough sleep? Chances are, it’s the same as the number of Super Bowl rings in the Cleveland Browns’ trophy case (hint: zero).

When you’re sleep deprived, a positive outlook can be elusive.[2] Develop a night routine that helps you put your devices away and get to bed on time.

If you still struggle to get the sleep you need, try supplements like melatonin. Speak with your doctor if conditions like sleep apnea are interrupting your rest.

8. Exercise Regularly

No doubt: Exercise is important for your physical health. But did you know it can also lift you up mentally and emotionally? Exercise releases endorphins in your brain. These chemicals combat pain, stress, and even depression.

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Unless you live on a farm an hour outside the nearest city, you’ll find a gym nearby. If a gym membership isn’t in your budget, you can do calisthenic exercises at home or take up running. Another good option is yoga, which can also improve your balance and focus.

9. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

What you put into your body is just as important as what you do with it. A healthy diet coupled with plenty of water is key if you want to function at your peak. Junk foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol can sap your energy and harm your self-esteem.

If you have trouble sticking with your diet, set up a meal plan. Portion out meals for yourself so you don’t eat too much or too little. Set reminders in your calendar to ensure you sip water throughout the day. Here’s How to Find a Healthy Eating Plan That Actually Works for You.

10. Switch Up Your Routine

Doing the same thing day in and day out can get old. And when your life gets stale, you may struggle for motivation or a positive outlook.

Don’t let yourself fall into a rut. When you do, try a different approach. Changing course even slightly can help you see things in a new light. Instead of taking a walk at noon, for instance, could you go on one before work?

Take this same approach to your professional development. If you’re sick of learning about physics, it’s going to be tough to become the next Albert Einstein. What about a dose of math or chemistry?

Final Thoughts

Despite all these tactics you can use to stay positive and accomplish what you want in life, the most important one can be summed up in three words: Don’t give up!

Quitting won’t get you any closer to your goals, nor will it put you in a positive headspace. Use this guide to keep moving forward no matter how difficult life can be.

More on How To Think Positive

Featured photo credit: Sander Crombach via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Built For Athletes: 6 Real Mantras Used By Elite Athletes
[2] Harvard: Sleep and Mental Health

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