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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 October 16, 2020

12 Ways to Get Back on Track When Things Don’t Work Out

12 Ways to Get Back on Track When Things Don’t Work Out

Life can be complicated. A few months ago, you felt like you were being extremely productive. You would visit the gym regularly, stick to your healthy eating habits, make achievements at your workplace, and were even getting quality sleep each night. You felt motivated enough to take on any task that came your way and even executed it to perfection.

But all of a sudden, everything is dull and bleak. You got too tired of the hectic schedule and you slipped, making you go down a rabbit hole of demotivation and procrastination. Maybe you suffered from the loss of a relationship, an illness, an injury, or a significant setback. Now, you only find yourself thinking negatively because you feel as though all the progress you had made is now ruined.

However, when things don’t work out, there are things you could do to get your life back on track. Many religions and traditions state that in the end, you will be happy. If you aren’t happy, then it is not the end.

But how does one find the motivation to start all over again when things don’t work out? Simple: you go back to the basics.

What Is Control?

When things don’t work out, the first thought that comes to mind is how to begin from scratch. But before you start figuring that out, it is important to know what control is.

Does control mean having a good work-life balance? Or does control refer to being a quick decision-maker?

The thing is that control can be subjective. Having ‘control’ over your life is important, but it may not always mean the same thing for two different people.

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Taking control of your life means that you are self-aware and confident enough to embark on new journeys. This control allows you to feel motivated enough to believe that if you invest your hard work into something, you will reap great results.

While it is impossible to control all the external factors around you, it is possible to control how you feel about them. Taking control of your life begins with your thoughts and emotions—internal factors—which later translate into controlling your surroundings or external factors as well.

When things don’t work out according to plan, we feel as if everything is out of control. To avoid this, we must remember that taking control is a choice that we make for ourselves and that we can exercise that control over our lives whenever and however we wish.

12 Ways of Gaining Control When Things Don’t Work Out

So, what do you do when things don’t work out and you feel as though you have lost control? You gain it back.

Here are 12 simple ways you can get your life back on track.

1. Reflect Upon Yourself

A thorough life audit can clear your perspective. Since it enables you to focus on each area of your life separately, it gives you a better picture of where you stand at the moment. While you reflect upon your life, remember to include aspects such as your career, relationships, family, psychological and physical health, fitness, and overall motivation. This gives you more clarity regarding where you are and where you want to be in the future.

While you could carry out this reflection yourself, there are also many tools available to aid you in this life audit process. The Wheel of Life focuses on a diagram method to evaluate your life, but there are also multiple different lists of questions available to assess your situation.

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2. Identify the Cause of Failure

You had your life on right on track—then what happened? Before you restart your pursuit of motivation and productivity, you must identify the cause of what led to your downfall in the first place. This serves as an extremely important factor in the healing process, especially to ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

If you dig deep enough, you will find that some common triggers led to your spiral of negativity. Once you reflect on these triggers and what causes them, avoiding them becomes much easier. This way, you can easily get your life back on track when things don’t work out perfectly.

3. Be Confident

Confidence is the key to your success, especially when it comes to having control over your life. While showing up for work every day is important, showing up to achieve something is much more important.

When things don’t work out perfectly and continue to spread far beyond your control, it can be because of your lack of physical and mental confidence. To regain your confidence, think about the things that provide you with the most confidence and engage in habits that correlate to that. For instance, if you feel confident when you are physically healthy, go to the gym to retain your fitness.

4. De-Clutter

For a clear mind, you must have a clear plan. On average, every individual has around 70,000 thoughts per day. While it is impossible to keep a close record of every single one, it is highly recommended to list down some of the thoughts that are most important to you.

This may be a thought about cooking pasta for dinner tomorrow or that work meeting you have been constantly rescheduling. Maybe it is a project idea you had right before you went to sleep, or maybe it is about that old friend that you thought of while you sip your coffee.

This method of brain dumping will help you bring important ideas and tasks onto paper while making room for your mind to focus on each item individually.

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5. Condition Your Mind

When things don’t work out, you may think that you need to start building your good habits back again from scratch. However, that is not true. There are many habits and routines that one follows subconsciously—and you can easily make use of your current habits to restart different sorts of healthy behavior to gain control over your life again.

For instance, if your current routine is to come home from work, change into comfortable clothing, and watch Netflix—you can use that to condition your brain into a new habit. By changing into workout clothes instead, you may be motivated enough to head to the gym before getting to that TV series.

6. Start From Little Things

Each droplet makes an ocean. When things don’t work out optimally in life, remember that you still have control over the tiny little things that are around you. This could be as insignificant as organizing your drawer or cleaning your house—but it will surely help you regain control over your life. Remember that even tiny things can accumulate into massive life-changing momentum.

7. Be Patient

When things don’t work out, it can be very tempting to get back on track as soon as possible. As a result, you may find yourself rushing through everything and trying to do too much too fast. However, it is time to slow down and be patient with yourself. If you have lost control over your diet, it is easier to get back on track by starting to track calories again instead of meal prep and strict diets.

8. Remember Your Purpose

Self-awareness is necessary. To regain control over your life after you have slipped once, you need to take a step back and reflect upon the purpose of why you wanted control in the first place. Even in the harshest of weather, trees still stand still. This is because they have strong roots—or a strong purpose.

Magical sayings are essential for reminding yourself that even if you don’t know how what you’re hoping for will appear in your life, everything is possible—something that can be easily forgotten when things are not working out.

When things don’t work out perfectly, go back to finding your purpose and why you started. Let that bring you back to gaining control over your life.

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9. Time Management

This is an important life skill that takes years to master but is necessary for getting your life back on track. One of the possible reasons why you slipped in the first place could be because you were too overwhelmed by your surroundings. If there are too many things on your mind at once, you are subject to a mental breakdown sooner or later.

To avoid that, you need to focus on managing your time more efficiently and stressing yourself out less. While it is okay to engage in multiple projects, remember to be moderate with rationing your time, and be responsible enough to keep some time for your self as well.

10. Create Healthy Boundaries

Regaining control over your life requires you to prioritize the things that are most important to you and discarding the few that only stress you out. To do this effectively, it is recommended to set healthy boundaries around yourself that help you focus solely on the important things in life.

11. Breathe

When things don’t work out, it is okay to feel overwhelmed. One of the easiest ways to relax is by taking a long walk and reconnecting with the outdoors. Don’t focus on your speed, distance, or surroundings—just breathe and focus on yourself for this moment.

12. Give Yourself Time

When things don’t work out and you spiral down that hole of negativity, you could be quick to start blaming yourself for everything. As a result, you may also feel pressured to get back on track immediately.

However, you need to give yourself time. Healthy routines are built through consistency and patience, constant reevaluations, and learning how to do things differently. Since this process may take time, you need to be kind to yourself.

Final Thoughts

While there is no single solution to getting your life back on track immediately, you should know that there are multiple smaller steps you can take towards achieving your ultimate goal. Just follow these 12 ways of gaining control when things don’t work out, and you will eventually feel the improvement in your quality of life. After all, having control over our lives is the key to feeling content.

What You Can Do When Things Don’t Work Out

Featured photo credit: Jamie Street via unsplash.com

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