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Last Updated on August 7, 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 December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

More Inspiring Lessons

Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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