Without realising it, a lot of us spend a lot of our day talking to ourselves. Sometimes it is running through our to-do lists or mental reminders, sometimes it is analysing our actions or reactions. But unfortunately, a lot of the time we are putting ourselves down or doubting ourselves.
Negative self-talk can take many forms. We can:
- put ourselves down;
- berate ourselves;
- doubt our actions, motivations or emotions; and/or
- relive negative or traumatic experiences.
And these thoughts can hold us back. Not only can they make us feel bad, they can prevent us from taking advantage of opportunities or undertaking our work or hobbies to the best of our ability because we doubt what that ability is!
This is particularly important for women. It is well known that women are harder on themselves than their male counterparts. This manifests in many different ways including:
- low self-esteem;
- negative body image;
- imposter syndrome;
- not asking for promotions or salary increases;
- not applying for certain jobs or positions; and
- ceding power to spouses or bosses
Clearly, these issues are painful and difficult for the individual, but they also have ripple effects on our society as evidenced by current significant social issues such as the gender pay gap and the lack of women in senior leadership positions.
The research consensus is clear: positive self-talk creates positive results. Self-talk can change our internal picture of ourselves, both our mental images of our physical bodies, as well as our views on our own capabilities. Similarly, research also indicates that the right kind of self-talk gives athletes an edge of competitors and can help improve self-esteem and body image. In most areas of our lives, positive self-talk can help us to achieve our goals and boost our performance.
So, what can you do about it? The first step is to be aware of your own negative self-talk. Much of the time, we are not conscious that we are engaging in negative self-talk. Until we can recognise and change our thoughts, we are not able to seriously address our negative perceptions of ourselves.
A regular mindfulness or meditation practice can help us to identify when we are engaged in negative self-talk and to recognise the effect that it is having on us. Do you feel sadder or more stressed when you have been engaged in negative self-talk? Do you talk yourself of undertaking certain challenges? How is your negative self-talk impacting your interactions with other people?
Once we are able to recognise and identify our self-talk, we are then able to take active and conscious steps to change our thoughts. There are a few ways to do this:
- Invert or say the opposite of the negative self-talk. If you catch yourself saying “I can’t do this”, you stop and change it to “I can do this”.
- Change our negative self-talk to aspirational or motivational thoughts. If you find yourself saying “I’m fat”, change it to “Every day I am taking the steps I need to take towards a healthier body”.
- Pick a mantra or power phrase that can inspire, motivate and boost you and turn your thinking . Your power phrase can be whatever has meaning or value to you – it can be light-hearted and joke-y (think: “you go, girl” or “you got this”), or more serious.
Bonus tip: some research suggests that talking to yourself in third person by your name, rather than firth person (using “I”) may also be more effective. Try addressing your self talk to you like “Jane, you’ve got this. You’ve prepared for this and you’re ready to go”.
If you feel that negative self-talk is holding you back, call Sue now on 0439 294 532 for a FREE consultation to learn how we can help you change your thinking and build your ideal life.
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