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Published on June 4, 2019

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 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, how come we can not accomplish them?

I think the reason why many of us can’t cannot accomplish them is because we have a critical inner voice inside our head that tends to be negative and convincing. We have a negative self-talk.

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 is harmful and it inhibits us from pursuing the life that we deserve. It leads to anxiety and depression.

If we want to reach our potential, 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

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are f4 types of negative self-talk:[1]

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

Filtering

You magnify the negative aspect of every situation. For example, you gained 3 pounds this week. You focus on this, and you ignore that you have lost 20 Lbs this month.

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.

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Polarizing

You either see things as perfect or horrible. For example, you get mad at your son, and you 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 can become beliefs. A Belief is something that you are certain about, and you have no doubt that it is true. 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. So let me share with you three methods that I use in daily basis to overcome this innate habit.

1. Respond to Your Inner Voice, Don’t Ignore It

“Turn down the volume of your negative inner voice and create a nurturing inner voice to take its place. When you make a mistake, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on instead of obsessing about it.” Beverly Engel

Erica Ariel Fox wrote a brilliant article in Harvard Business Review about negative self-talk.[2] She stated that the toughest conversations any of us can have are the ones that we have with ourselves.

She mentions a story about Dominique, a high performer 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 they should listen to you?” “I’m a fraud”, “I can not do this.”

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Erica Fox realized that Dominique inner voice will impact her performance if she does not learn how to turn it to positive self-talk.

It is clearly 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 advice,

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

Erica Fox found out that most executives do not shy away from having hard conversations with anyone, 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, “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, respond to it kindly. Practice positive self-talk every day. Do not allow negative self-talk from robbing you from your potential, and to leave you feeling powerless.

2. Be Kind to Yourself

“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

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 for 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.

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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 canceled a dinner plan, do not assume that no one wants to be around you. Do not personalize everything. 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.

Be kind to yourself, and stop personalizing everything.

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 and stay positive.

3. Stop Trying to Be Perfect

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Leo Tolstoy

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.

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 these negative self-talk, stop trying to be perfect.

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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, when you catch yourself with negative thoughts, think of all the things you are grateful for family, friends, home, car, health, everything.

If you want some inspirations 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!

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.

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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