Negative self-talk, or self-doubt, is like having a tiny critic inside your head, pointing out your flaws and mistakes. It’s that voice that makes you doubt your abilities and worth.
Neutral self-talk is more like a statement of fact, without any emotional charge. It’s like listing things you need to do without judging yourself for them.
Negative self-talk is like having a little critic inside your head that says mean things about you. It’s that voice that makes you doubt yourself or feel bad about who you are. And, it impacts your life in more ways than you can ever imagine.
Without realizing it, we become our own worst enemies, stripping ourselves of self-confidence and peace of mind.
Our inner critic can mess with our minds in many ways.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking: This is when you see things in extreme black-and-white categories. For instance, if you make a small mistake, you might think you’re a total failure.
- Catastrophize: This is expecting the worst-case scenario to happen. If a friend doesn’t return your call, you might immediately think they don’t like you anymore.
- Mind Read : This happens when you assume you know what others are thinking about you, and it’s usually negative. For example, you might believe your colleagues think you’re not good enough, even if they haven’t said anything.
- Self-Label: This is when you define yourself with a negative label based on your mistakes. For instance, if you fail at something, you might start thinking of yourself as a failure.
The tricky part is, we all do it from time to time, but it’s important to recognize it and learn how to deal with it.
A Warm Hug
On the other hand, self-love is like giving yourself a big, warm hug from the inside out! It’s all about appreciating, accepting, and embracing who you are, just as you are. Imagine having a best friend who knows all your quirks and flaws and loves you unconditionally — well, that best friend is you, and that’s what self-love is all about!
When you practice self-love, you treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you would offer to someone you deeply care about. It means acknowledging your worth, taking care of your physical and mental well-being, and forgiving yourself when you make mistakes because, hey, we’re all human!
Self-love isn’t about being arrogant or selfish; it’s about recognizing your own value and understanding that you deserve happiness, just like everyone else. It’s saying to yourself, “I am worthy of love, respect, and all the good things life has to offer, simply because I exist.”
Self-love is also about setting boundaries and saying no when you need to, without feeling guilty. It’s about pursuing your passions, even if they’re different from what others expect. It’s about embracing your uniqueness and understanding that you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else because you are already incredibly special just as you are.
Left unchecked, a lack of positivity in our lives can start affecting our health, leaving us worried and stressed, unable to relax.
The good news is, that you can overcome negative self-talk! First, start by catching yourself in the act:
Be Aware: The first step is recognizing when you’re doing it. Pay attention to your thoughts and notice when they turn negative. Awareness is the key to change.
Challenge Your Thoughts: Question the negative thoughts. Ask yourself if they’re really true. Are there actual facts to support them, or are they just assumptions and opinions? Instead of listening to negative assumptions, turn them into questions. For example, “That’s impossible” can become “How can I make that possible?” Questions look for solutions while statements are already decisive.
Replace with Positivity: When you catch yourself in a negative thought spiral, consciously replace it with a positive one. For example, if you think, “I’m terrible at this,” replace it with, “I may be struggling now, but I can learn and improve.”
Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a good friend. Understand that everyone makes mistakes and has setbacks; it doesn’t define your worth as a person.
Surround Yourself with Positivity: Spend time with people who uplift you. Positive influences can help challenge your negative beliefs about yourself.
Gratitude Practice: Focus on what you are grateful for. Gratitude can shift your focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going right in your life.
Write it Down: Keeping a journal is a great way to get a handle on what you’re thinking. Try writing down your impressions of the day before bed. This allows you to let go of feelings that might fester if allowed to run unchecked when you’re trying to sleep. Re-reading those entries later will give you a picture of just where you are. It might be you’ve been more negative lately than you thought.
Just Say “No:” When you catch the negative statements in your head, your job is to stop them before they form. The moment you recognize your self-talk shifting to something less than uplifting, you need to say ‘no’ to it immediately. Say the word “Stop” out loud if you need to.
Snap Back: Psychologists have advised this therapy for years to stop negative thoughts. You simply place a rubber band around your wrist (one that doesn’t fit too snug). Simply snap the rubber band whenever you have a negative thought. Eventually, you’ll find yourself stopping those thoughts automatically just to avoid the ‘punishment.’
Tone it Down: What word can you change in the negative thought to take the sting out? Instead of ‘stupid’ perhaps you were ‘mistaken.’ Instead of ‘slow’ maybe you’re ‘thoughtful.’ By paying attention to your words you’ll automatically start shifting your self-talk to the more positive.
Switch Sides: Make a game of it. Every time you hear yourself making a statement in your head, ask yourself if you can somehow reword things to make your words neutral or even positive. See how many of these thoughts you can change.
Whenever I’m still finding it a challenge to banish my negative thoughts, and, they seem to set up camp in my mind and body, creating an endless line of ‘worry soldiers’ that are set on defeating me I take a physical break. I take a time-out to interrupt the negative thoughts. Getting out of my own head for just a few moments can work wonders by helping me to gain perspective.
Get Moving: Any form of physical exercise that you can focus on will also take your mind away from worry. This can be a walk in a park, a game of basketball, or even hula hooping with your kids. The important aspect of moving is to focus on how your body feels — the feel of your legs and feet stabilizing you on a dirt path in the woods or your hips swiveling to keep a hoop around your waist. These can help ease worry in your mind and the physical side effects of worry that plague your body, such as muscle tension.
Yoga or Tai Chi: These forms of exercise help you to focus on your breath and movements in a manner that forces you to use all your intentions on the practice. Therefore, leaving behind your worry, even if just for a short time.
Mediate: Meditation is the practice of focusing on your body in its current state. Your breath, how you feel, and whatever else a guided meditation can take you through. Meditation also teaches you to acknowledge interruptions or sporadic thoughts, but then to move your mind back to meditation practice. This training can help you not to relent to worry cycles in everyday life.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This practice calls for you to tense and then relax specific muscles in your body. Doing this can take deep concentration as you flex muscles, you may not be used to flexing, and then expending equal concentration to relax that muscle.
Deep Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing exercises can help lower your heart rate and focus on your body. You can find an array of these exercises online, or you can simply sit still and breathe deeply through your nose, hold the breath for a five-count, and then slowly release the breath for ten counts. Bonus points if you use a timer and work on lengthening your exhalations.
Remember, overcoming negative self-talk takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself, and don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or even a therapist. It involves practicing self-care, being mindful of your thoughts and feelings, and celebrating your achievements, no matter how small they might seem.
By tracking what you do and acting with intentionality to change the situation, you’ll discover life looks different. You’ll feel more relaxed and even embrace optimism. You start liking yourself a little more. It’s here where you start discovering the potential you’ve been holding all along.
So go ahead, be your own biggest fan, and shower yourself with the love and kindness you truly deserve!
You are deserving of kindness and self-love!
You’re amazing just the way you are!
“Be mindful of your self-talk. It’s a conversation with the universe” — David James Lees
Meditation is a habit that may come easily to some. I have been meditating for over five years, but there were many days I found myself slipping. These days, not so much, not since I completed the no-cost Action Habits Challenge by Connie Ragen Green, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, independent publisher, and serial entrepreneur. You can check it out here.
If you’re interested in revitalizing your life through meditation and would like to learn a virtually risk-free, and cost-effective practice, that people of all ages can do with a little patience and guidance and that will serve you for the rest of your life, I would love to connect with you. You can connect with me here.
I’m Donna SLam, who loves to blog about how meditation brings self-compassion, peace of mind, and clarity to my life and others by sharing tips and strategies on how to live a fulfilling and purposeful life. I enjoy championing others to lead a healthy and happy life through meditation, walking, self-development, and spending time with loved ones.