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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)

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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.

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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 July 21, 2021

How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

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How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

When someone says, “I can’t do it” . . . I say to myself, “What do you mean you can’t do it?” Maybe you don’t want to do it, but saying you “can’t” do it is a completely different story.

With the right mindset, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing that is holding you back is yourself.

Can’t is a terrible word and it has to be taken out of your vocabulary.

By saying you can’t do something, you’re already doubting yourself, submitting to defeat, and you’re making that barrier around your life tighter.

So today, right now, we are going to remove this word for good.

From now on there is nothing we can’t do.

“Attitude is Tattoo”

Your attitude is everything; it’s your reason, your why and how, your facial expression, emotions, body language, and potentially the end result. How you approach an opportunity, and the result of it, is solely based on you — not your boss or your co-worker or friend.

If you enter a business meeting with a sour attitude, that negative energy can spread like wildfire. People can also feel it — maybe even taste it. This is not an impression you want to leave.

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Now imagine you enter a business meeting with a positive attitude, that whatever happens in here is going to be your result, in your control, not someone else’s. Of course, we can’t always win, but even if the outcome is negative, your attitude and perception can turn it into a positive. The question is: can you do it?

Of course you can, because there is nothing in this world you can’t do.

It’s much better to be known for your positive attitude — your poise, your energy, the reason why things go so well because you are able to maintain such character. A negative attitude is easy. It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to be mad, and it’s even easier to do nothing to change it.

When I say your “attitude is tattoo”, it sounds permanent. Tattoos can be removed, but that’s not the point. Your attitude is like a tattoo because you wear it. People can see it and sometimes, they will judge you on it. If you maintain a negative attitude, then it is permanent until you change it.

Change your attitude and I guarantee the results change as well.

Believe You Can Do It

Do you know why most people say “can’t” and doubt themselves before trying anything?

It’s our lack of self-confidence and fear on many different levels. The one thing we have to purge from ourselves is fear — fear of bad results, fear of change, fear of denial, fear of loss, the fear that makes us worry and lose sleep. Worrying is the same as going outside with an umbrella, waiting for rain to hit it. Stop worrying and move on.

Confidence is fragile: It builds up slowly, but can shatter like glass. Project your confidence and energy into believing in yourself. This is a very important and groundbreaking step — one that is usually the hardest to take. Start telling yourself you can do something, anything, and you will do it the best to your ability. Remove doubt, remove fear, and stick with positive energy.

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Learn how to boost your confidence: How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

Embrace Failure

Do not fear failure. Do not run away from it. Face it, learn from it, grow, and take action. Just remember: You will never know success if you have never failed.

Your confidence will bolster after embracing these facts. You will be immune to demoralizing results, and instead you will find ways to fix it, improve upon it, and make it better than before. You will learn to never say “can’t,” and will realize how many more opportunities you can create by removing that one word.

Don’t let one simple and ugly word plague your confidence. You’re better and stronger than that.

Start Making the Change

But to actually start the process of change is very challenging.

Why is that?

Fear? Time? Don’t know how — or where — to start?

It’s hard because what we’re doing is unlearning what we know. We are used to doing things a certain way, and chances are we’ve been doing them for years.

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So here are some ways that I avoid using the word “can’t”, and actually take the steps to put forth the change that I wish to see. I hope you can incorporate these methods into your life.

Write down What You Want to Change

Write it on post-its, notecards, whatever makes you comfortable — something you will always see. I usually write mine on post-its and put them all over the wall behind my monitor so I always see them.

Tell a Friend and Talk About It

Discussing your goals, what you want to change, is very effective when you say it out loud and tell another person other than yourself. It’s almost like saying, hey, I bet I can do it — watch me.

When you fulfill that goal and tell your friend, it feels rewarding and will motivate you to do it again in a different aspect. Who knows? Maybe your friend adopts the same mindset as you.

Stop Yourself from Saying the Forbidden Word

Sometimes,I can’t control myself in public when I’m with friends, so I have to be careful with the words I use so I don’t embarrass or insult anyone.

Treat the word “can’t” as the worst word you can possibly use. Stop yourself from saying it, mid-sentence if you must, and turn your whole perspective around — you can do it, you will do it, and nothing is impossible!

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

You think this change will be overnight? No way. This is a practice. Something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life from now until forever.

As I said earlier, you are unlearning what you know. You know how easy it is to say you can’t do something, so by unlearning this easy practice, you’re self-disciplining yourself to live without boundaries.

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Practice this everyday, a little at a time, and before you know it, the word can’t will not be part of your language.

Do Anything That Can Relieve Your Uncertainty

When I catch myself saying I can’t do something or I don’t know something, looking up information on that action or subject, doing research, educating yourself, relieves that uncertainty.

Sometimes, we think we can’t do something because the whole idea of it seems too large. We skip the small steps in our head and only focus on the end.

Before you say you can’t do something, rewind and slow down a little bit. Focus on what the first step is, then the next. Take it a step at a time, and before you know it you will have done something you previously thought you couldn’t do.

Final Thoughts

You know what you must do. The first step is right now. Once you begin this habit, and really start noticing some change, you’ll realize the door to opportunity is everywhere.

The funny thing is: Those doors have always been there. The evil word that we no longer use put a veil over our eyes because that’s how powerful that word is.

More Tips for Strengthening Your Resilience

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

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