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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

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Last Updated on February 25, 2020

11 Killer Ways to Gain Confidence and Boost Your Self-Esteem

11 Killer Ways to Gain Confidence and Boost Your Self-Esteem

Have you ever been making great progress only to get stuck and find your confidence disappears? Or perhaps you’ve achieved a big success that’s been quickly followed by a crash of confidence? Or maybe your confidence just evaporates away slowly over time?

Regardless of how robust we might appear on the outside, we are all vulnerable. We can be especially vulnerable when we’re ambitious and striving to achieve big goals.

Our confidence can easily be knocked by a passing comment from a friend or colleague. Or when we’re working hard to deliver a project quickly or make a change happen and are faced with blockers and negativity. I’ve also known confidence to disappear for no apparent reason. That’s why knowing practical tips for how to gain confidence is a crucial skill.

Then there’s the critical voice in your head that tells you ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you’re going to get found out’. The little voice nags away, becomes louder, more insistent and more toxic until you just want to stick firmly with what you know, and stop pushing forward and getting things done fast because it feels safer to stand still. Only when you stand still does the nagging voice stop chipping away at your confidence and self-esteem.

It turns out that the little nagging voice is a thing. It’s called Imposter Syndrome. It’s a term first coined in 1978 by psychologists, Pauline Clance, and Suzanne Imes.[1] It describes the psychological phenomenon which is characterized by intense feelings of not being good enough, negativity, being a fraud and that you are going to get found out – even though all the evidence suggests otherwise.

Gaining your confidence back once the little nagging voice takes hold is hard. I see it like this. Every day, you have a bucket of confidence. Every time you get push back from someone, every time you get a negative comment, or even a disparaging look from the right person, a little bit of your confidence leaks away.

To gain your confidence and increase your self-esteem, you have to put habits in place to keep your confidence bucket full. Every day. I don’t believe that some people have confidence and others don’t. It’s simply that successful people are more accomplished at managing their feelings of self-doubt and silencing that little internal voice before it has a chance to jeopardize them.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Vincent Van Gogh

Gaining confidence is about keeping your bucket topped up on a daily basis. Here are 11 tips to gain confidence and really boost your self-esteem:

1. Log Your Achievements

Get yourself a physical notebook or create an online file and log your achievements. Log them all, especially the small ones because they add up.

Keep the good feedback you receive from other people; a thank you from a friend, the well done, good job email from a manager, or the time your colleagues went the extra mile for you.

Write them down. Writing them down helps you to acknowledge them, which makes you feel good.

In addition, seeing your achievements written down helps you realize how far you’ve come, the positive impact you have every day and how much you’ve achieved overall. Instead of your ‘to do’ list – it’s your ‘I did it!’ list.

2. Call out Your Imposter Syndrome

It’s actually rather common. 70% of people have had feelings of being inadequate and getting found out at one time or another.

When that little nagging voice telling you that you’re not good enough and anything good that happens to you is luck – call it out. For example, acknowledge that it’s happening and disconnect that annoying voice from the real you and tell it to shut up.

Your task is to find your own way to change the negative story that your inner critic is telling you. Look for evidence to prove what your inner critic is saying is wrong. For example, if you think that you’re a failure, ask yourself, “What evidence is there to support the thought that I’m a failure?” and “What evidence is there that doesn’t support the thought that I’m a failure?”

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3. Become a Mentor

Being a mentor isn’t just for very senior and experienced people, there’s always someone that you can help.

Helping someone else can be a very rewarding experience. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll also realize how much value you can bring to others which in turn can help you to gain confidence.

Many industries have some form of mentor programme or scheme. If yours doesn’t, why not just go for it and put yourself out there? For example, you could post on your intranet or on LinkedIn that you are looking to mentor someone.

4. Accept Compliments

If someone says to you, ‘great job,’ or ‘you look wonderful’ or ‘well done excellent event,’ do you say ‘thank you’ and feel good or do you shy away and give someone else credit?

If you shy away from compliments, then stop. Own it and feel good about it. Next time someone pays you a compliment, smile, say thank you and own the good feeling that goes with that acceptance. (And note it in your achievements log!)

5. Fake It Until You Make It

How you look and behave and how you feel are closely linked. Dress like you mean success.

If you turn up to the office or a meeting looking smart (and smart will mean different things in different contexts), you’re perceived differently than if you turn up looking ready for a casual Sunday afternoon.

I used to work with someone who always wore a suit to work because they were always ready to step up and impress. One day, he had to stand in for his boss at a board meeting. He wouldn’t have been given the opportunity if he hadn’t been dressed for it.

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In addition to what you wear, to gain confidence, notice your body language and stand tall, smile and speak slowly.

6. Ask Why

Get to the root cause of your lack of confidence by asking ‘Why?’ ‘What is causing it?’ When you have identified the ‘why?’ you can start to tackle it.

Often, lack of confidence connects to a lack of or perceived lack of knowledge, so stop focusing on what you don’t know. Concentrate on the things you do know and the value you bring if you want to gain confidence.

7. Look after Yourself

Looking after yourself helps you gain confidence. It’s fundamental to success. Make sure you get more than enough sleep, do regular exercise and eat healthy food. Make it a habit.

If you feel good, you gain confidence, which inspires you to look after yourself and you create a positive cycle.

8. Be Kind and Generous

Being kind and generous to others makes us feel good; and feeling good helps us to gain confidence.

Linked to this, focus on being grateful for what you have and what has gone well that day. I’d suggest that you start by writing down the things you are grateful for every day and make a deliberate effort to be kind and generous to others at every opportunity. And again, over time this becomes a habit.

9. Be Prepared

The more you practice, the more successful you get. Funny isn’t it?

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Gaining confidence is borne out of practice. Be prepared, practice the presentation, read the meeting minutes, research the person you are meeting.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the practice required to be the master of your skill being 10,000 hours. So start putting the hours in and you will gain confidence.

10. Visualize Your Success

Skip forward to when you have achieved success. Play it out in your mind. The applause and how you feel after that excellent presentation, the phone call after a successful job interview or fitting into those smaller jeans.

Choose a positive mindset and visualize what you are aiming for. Tell someone else about your goal. As well as helping you to gain confidence, focusing on your success AND telling someone else holds you accountable which means it’s more likely to happen.

11. Get Yourself a Positive Affirmation

Tell yourself that you can do this. Whether you look in the mirror and tell yourself that you ‘can do this’ ‘are amazing’ or ‘going to rock it today,’ find your positive phrase to tell yourself every day to keep your confidence bucket topped up.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie

And finally, conquer the knowing-doing gap. You’ve now got a stack of practical tactics to gain confidence and boost your self-esteem. Every action you take will add up but it starts with you.

If you want to gain success, take action today. Let me know how you get on!

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Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

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