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Published on December 2, 2019

4 Types of Negative Self-Talk to Stop Right Now

4 Types of Negative Self-Talk to Stop Right Now

“You are such an idiot,” used to be my go-to internal reprimand. It’s harsh, I know but I used to be the Queen of negative self-talk. No matter the circumstance, I could find a way to blame myself for falling short, even if the outcome was good. Forget waiting for the other shoe to drop or finding someone else to blame, I was more concerned the sky was falling and it was all my fault.

The powerful and challenging thing about negative self-talk is learning that you ARE your inner critic. Therefore, in order to navigate the rough waters of negative self-talk, you have to cultivate a healthy sense of self-awareness.

For a long time, I thought I was being appropriately hard on myself because if I wasn’t, who would be? I couldn’t have been more misguided.

Almost everyone on the planet has experienced a moment when positivity goes out the window and you become your own worst enemy. It’s in those moments when you inner critic pipes up and begins hurling destructive falsehoods at you.

Negative self-talk is so insidious that you may not even realize it’s happening until you are in the throws of self inflicted internal flogging. It may start out as a little personal reprimand that goes on unchecked, which spirals into a full on “I’m an Idiot, WTF was I thinking” scenario. Before you know it, you’ve blamed all the worlds problems on yourself and all you want to do is crawl under a rock.

Thankfully a little self-awareness goes a long way. It can be like a lamp turned on in a dark room that immediately allows you to feel more secure, confident and knowledgeable about yourself. In an effort to help you turn on the light, here’re 4 types of negative self-talk you need to stop right now:

1. Personalizing

Some examples of personalizing are:

“We didn’t get the account! It must have been because of my presentation. “

“Friendsgiving is cancelled this year? It has to be because no one likes my food.”

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If any time something bad happens, you automatically think it has something to do to you directly, you have personalized the outcome.

One cause of personalization is insecurity. When you feel insecure, uncertain and anxious, it is easy to label yourself as the cause of unfortunate outcomes. The challenge is slowing down long enough to acknowledge that there is no evidence to support the personalization of the outcome.

One way to halt personalized negative self-talk is to first acknowledge that you are personalizing. Then, ask yourself if you know it to be true. The following line of questioning has worked wonders for many dealing with personalized negative self-talk:

Is it true that you are the reason things went wrong? Is it true that you are the reason something bad happened? What evidence do you have to support that?

Honest answers to these aforementioned questions can help give you the distance you need from the outcome to make an objective assessment of your role, while also quieting your inner critic.

2. Filtering

Some examples of filtering are:

“So what I got that done, there’s still a ton to do if I want to be successful”

“They enjoyed that garbage? I thought I could have done so much better!”

When no matter what happens, you disregard what has been accomplished and focus on what you have left to do, then you’ve filtered the outcome.

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A lack of mindfulness can lead to filtering. Mindfulness is about connection, when it is absent, all of our actions can feel disconnected. If you are not clear about how your current actions are connected to your overall goal, it can leave you feeling like an untethered balloon floating aimlessly with no direction.

Being detached from the reality of your actions can cause you to feel frustrated, like you are on a hamster wheel to nowhere.

One approach to work with this kind of negative self-talk is to remind yourself of the true merit of what you have already accomplished. When you find yourself dwelling on what you haven’t done, pause and acknowledge the thought with out judgment. Take yourself out of the equation, and objectively ask:

What have I already done that is going to help me get closer to where I want to go?

Write down your answers, and read them aloud to yourself. Taking time to intentionally reflect on the bigger picture can reveal all the positives you previously overlooked.

3. Polarizing

Some examples of polarizing are

“I didn’t beat my personal best this time, I suck!”

“I burnt one of the biscuits, I’m the worst cook in the world”

If your thinking is very black and white, then you are likely experiencing polarized negative self-talk. When you are in a polarized mental space, you see your behaviors and outcomes categorically – they are either good or bad, there is no in-between.

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Perfectionism can be a cause of polarizing. Wanting everything to be perfect creates an untenable ideal that causes you to micro analyze all your outcomes. The micro-analysis creates an energetically draining and seemingly endless cycle of problem spotting.

One method for dealing with polarized thinking is to remind yourself – Perfection is an illusion and reality is subjective. As Shakespeare wrote,

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Shakespeare poetically describes every human’s secret super power – the ability to control your individual perception.

You have the power to shape your subjective reality by controlling your power of perception. When you accept that perfection is an illusion, you free yourself from the pain of trying to perceive all things, including yourself, through that lens.

Take a look at this article and learn Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.

4. Catastrophizing

Some examples of catastrophizing are

“Traffic is terrible, I’m going to be late! Now my whole day is ruined.”

“My partner didn’t say I love you this morning. We must be about to break up.”

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Remember Chicken Little, who got hit on the head with an apple and immediately thought the sky was falling? He was the poster child for catastrophizing. If the slightest negative outcome triggers you to anticipate the worst outcomes in all areas of your life, and you believe calamity is inevitable, then you catastrophized the outcome. This type of thinking takes cause and effect reasoning to an illogical extreme.

In order to overcome catastrophic thinking, it’s important to remember that not every action you take is related. While you may be late to work because of traffic, it does not automatically mean your day is ruined. Likewise, if your partner forgot to say I love you before work, that doesn’t mean you’re definitely breaking up.

Think of cause and effect like a tree. The initial cause is like the tree trunk and the effect can be any one of the many branches that sprout from the trunk. The next time something unexpected throws you for a loop, before you assume the worst, remember the worst is just one branch of the tree. You can always choose a different branch.

Final Thoughts

Now stop beating yourself up and give yourself permission to live!

Not every situation is going to go your way – and that is expected. When things go left, you don’t have to become your own worst enemy; instead, you can be your own best friend.

Be compassionate and patient with yourself as you begin to cultivate deeper self-awareness. Shifting out of long established patterns of negative-self talk will take dedication and discipline. Be firm but kind with yourself. It may be difficult to completely eradicate the inner critic but, you can empower yourself to confidently shut him up.

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Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

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Awilda Rivera

Success Coach - Author - Speaker - Yogi - Advisor

How to Develop Self-Knowledge and Live up to Your Potential 4 Types of Negative Self-Talk to Stop Right Now 6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

The statistics are dismal. A recent study has found that 69% of people feel trapped in the same old routine, and only 3 out of 10 people are happy with their lives.[1] People are feeling stuck.

Some are feeling stuck in their careers, feeling like they’re too far along one path to make a change. Some are feeling stuck in their personal lives. The toll of the daily grind sucks most of their time and energy. So their relationships, self-care, and personal goals get lost in the shuffle of the treadmill existence.

When people come across these challenges of feeling stuck, the feeling sometimes doesn’t go away. It often intensifies as time goes on. As the stuck feeling intensifies, some people choose to settle. Subconsciously, without even realizing it, they end up pushing their dreams and goals further and further down.

Others, if the feeling of being stuck intensifies to an unbearable point, choose to make changes. They may choose to pivot in their careers, even after years at a successful job. They may end up making big changes in their relationships, or start putting their fitness at a higher priority. They may make drastic changes to finally feel free. These changes can be incredibly difficult to make, especially if a person has lived many years in a certain lifestyle.

Feeling stuck is NOT fun. I’ve been there. I get it.

Why Am I Feeling Stuck?

People feel stuck once in a while. There are many causes of feeling stuck. Many people work toward goals that don’t actually align with who they are at the core or what they truly desire. I call these “False Objectives”.

Living a life of False Objectives can cause people to feel very stuck and frustrated. People can build lives that are very “successful” according to society; but if you’ve built your life based on False Objectives, you’re not going to feel fulfilled. You’ll end up feeling stuck.

Another cause of feeling stuck is not knowing who you are. If you don’t understand how you’re innately wired – your strengths, your gifts, your talents, your passions – it’s tough to make decisions that enable you to maximize those. It’s tough to reach your full potential if you don’t know who you are.

You can feel stuck if you’re doing work that doesn’t allow you to maximize your innate strengths. If you’re doing work that doesn’t bring out the best in who you are at the core, you’ll likely feel some dissatisfaction and you won’t reach your full potential.

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Other people feel stuck because they haven’t surrounded themselves with mentors or peers who have achieved what they want to achieve. They stay in certain routines while craving to do life differently. As Jim Rohn says,

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

If your goal is to run a marathon and you’re spending most evenings and weekends drinking beer with your coworkers, you’re probably not going to run that marathon. If your goal is to live a location-independent lifestyle and work anytime from anywhere, but everyone in your social circle is at traditional jobs; it’ll be tough to break free from the 9-5 mentality.

How Feeling Stuck Screws You up Secretly

Feeling stuck screws up people’s lives. The consequences of feeling stuck can range from mild to severe. People may feel a mild discontentment with life and end up succumbing to the idea that life is “okay,” and settle. (Nancy’s story will resonate with you.) They may never reach their full potential, their highest levels of happiness and satisfaction. And they may not make the impact on the world that they could make, and have a looming sense that there could be “more” to life.

Often, though, the feeling of being stuck comes with much larger consequences. Feeling stuck can hinder career growth and contribute to disrupted marriages. It can lead to huge midlife crises.

The feeling can (and frequently does) increase as the years go on, leading to significant regrets about unfulfilled dreams. In fact, the number one regret of the dying, according to Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” She writes:[2]

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Many people had not honored even a half of their dreams, and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

    Approaching Life Differently

    Thankfully, some highly effective strategies can prevent you from feeling stuck. Using these strategies can help you avoid significant problems in your life. It’s different than conventional living, and it works.

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    Commonly, people live with many set routines. While certain routines are helpful, becoming stuck in the daily grind routine can get frustrating. Many people eat roughly the same foods each week, go to the same place each day, talk to the same people, keep the same commitments, and end up living life on autopilot.

    It’s tough to feel like you’re progressing forward when each day is spent doing the same uninspiring routine. In order to avoid feeling stuck, it’s important to live intentionally. It’s crucial to live in the driver’s seat of your life and get out of autopilot mode.

    First, ditch the False Objectives. Just because everyone in your family are doctors doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because all your friends are married with a big house, a white picket fence, and 2 kids doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. Just because everyone you know works 9-5 doesn’t mean that’s the best path for you. It’s not easy to design your life intentionally, but it’s critical in order to avoid feeling stuck.

    Remember, the majority of people feel stuck. So, if you’re doing things like the majority of people, you’ll likely feel stuck, too. You’ll need to think differently and create your life differently.

    2 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

    In order to intentionally design your life, avoid falling prey to False Objectives, and prevent feeling stuck, there are questions to ask yourself every day. These questions can help you stay focused on what matters most to you, help you avoid feeling stuck and frustrated, and create the best life possible.

    1. Why Am I Going to Do What I’m Going to Do Today?

    If you’re showing up to work each day and giving your years to your job, it’s important that your “why” is deeper than “to pay the bills.” Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing can help you make choices that inspire and motivate you.

    By asking yourself why you’re going to do what you’re going to do today, you will be living intentionally. In today’s incredibly busy, easily distracted world, living intentionally and focusing every day on what matters most is unique.

    When you choose to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing every day, it will help you stay focused on what’s truly important to you. This can prevent you from getting stuck.

    2. What Would Future Want Me to Do Today?

    Imagine yourself, in the future, as the best version of you. What would that version of you want you to do today? Making decisions from the viewpoint of the future you can help you move forward and prevent the stuck and frustrated feeling.

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    When you make decisions from the viewpoint of future you, you will develop perseverance and reap the benefits of delayed gratification. Today’s society is very focused on instant gratification, but a lot of great things in life take time and effort. Learning to take small steps forward by making decisions from the future you’s standpoint can help you progress toward your biggest goals and dreams.

    How to Get Unstuck

    After asking yourself the two questions, work on the plan to get unstuck. I’ve personally tried these strategies and they work for me.

    1. Choose Goals You Truly Desire to Accomplish

    This might sound obvious but we all get sucked into False Objectives at times. When you’re setting goals in your career and your personal life, make sure they are goals that matter to you.

    Working hard toward big achievements that don’t align with your values, priorities, and who you are at the core is a fast-track toward feeling stuck.

    Learn about your strengths, your gifts, and your passions. Choose goals that align with who you are at the core, and work toward goals that align with your inner strengths and gifts. This will help you maximize your potential and minimize the stuck and frustrated feelings.

    2. Watch Your Mindset

    Often, we think we’re stuck, but the problem is our mindset. Being mindful of our mindset and self-talk is important to living a life of freedom and fulfillment. Work on rephrasing your self-talk in order to improve your mindset.

    For example, if you tell yourself, “I could never start a business,” rephrase it to, “I don’t know how to start a business YET, but I can learn.” If you find yourself saying, “I don’t have enough money to travel,” tell yourself, “I don’t have the money right now, but I can make a plan to save money to travel. Rephrasing your self-talk can help you see opportunities and possibilities instead of feeling stuck.

    Occasionally, even the most driven people have days where they feel unmotivated. Check out this article for tips to get motivated when you feel like doing nothing: What Motivates You And How to Always Stay Motivated

    Those tips can help you break free from the rut.

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    3. Get out of Your Comfort Zone and Add Some Excitement to Your Day

    Shaking up your daily routine and adding some excitement to your days can help you get unstuck.

    While breaking out of your daily routine can be uncomfortable, it can be a great way to invigorate your life. You can start by getting out of your comfort zone in small ways. Here are 10 ways to step out of your comfort zone and overcome your fear. As Brian Tracy says,

    “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

    Getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing growth can help you to continue to move forward and prevent you from getting stuck.

    4. Surround Yourself with People Who Have Done What You Aspire to Do

    It’s easy to get stuck if you’re trying to accomplish something and you’re struggling to believe it’s possible to accomplish it.

    Instead of letting yourself be isolated and stuck, commit to learning from people who have done what you aspire to do. This can help you believe it’s possible to achieve the same goals. It can also help you to be inspired to progress forward instead of staying in stuck-land.

    You can seek out a mentor, or even read inspiring books or listen to motivating podcasts by the people who have achieved your biggest goals and dreams.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s frustrating to feel stuck. But you don’t need to stay stuck if you know the right ways to break free from the rut.

    Practice living intentionally by asking yourself the 2 critical questions:

    • Why am I going to do what I’m going to do today?
    • What would future want me to do today?

    When you constantly reflect about what you truly want and whether you’re doing the things that lead you to what you desire, you’ll feel less stuck gradually.

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    Featured photo credit: Krists Luhaers via unsplash.com

    Reference

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