Do you derail your good actions by trash talking yourself?  Do you not get what you want because your have talked yourself out of it before even starting?

Studies have linked negative self-talk with higher levels of stress and lower levels of self-esteem. This can lead to decreased motivation as well as greater feelings of helplessness. And this type of critical inner dialogue has even been linked to depression.  Basically, the talks we have with our-self can actually be just as bad for us and the actions we take.

What to look out for.

Think about HOW you talk about what’s going on in your world, both outwardly and inwardly – are you naturally pessimistic, negative or a worrier?

Some phrasing to be aware of and keep in check…

  • All or nothing thinking. When you see things in black and white instead of in shades of grey. Example: “I’m rubbish at exercise”
  • When you extend a negative thought, so it reaches even further. Example: “I never do anything right.” 
  • Mental filter. When you filter out all the good stuff to focus on the bad. Example: “I didn’t accomplish anything today.”
  • Disqualifying the positive. When you believe a good or positive thing “doesn’t count” toward your larger pattern of failure and negativity. Example: “I went for a walk today and got some thinking time but didn’t finish everything on my to do list.”
  • Jumping to conclusions. When you extrapolate an even bigger and broader negative thought from a small negative experience. Example: “I’ll never be able to achieve that” 
  • Magnification or minimization. When you exaggerate your own mistakes (or other people’s accomplishments or happiness) while minimizing your own accomplishments and others’ flaws. Example: “Everyone else can manage their time but I’m just bad at time management” 
  • Should statements. When you beat yourself up for not doing things differently. Example: “I should’ve have gone to bed on time and not watched that extra episode” 
  • Labeling and mislabeling. When you use a small negative event or feeling to give yourself a huge, general label. Example: “I didn’t take a break today, I’m a total idiot.”

What’s the impact of this?

Firstly, we can all be guilty of this at times.  It’s when it creeps into how you start to feel every day that it can affect your overall mood, ability to switch off, sleep and general self-worth.  Life can feel negative, and in turn feelings of helplessness or a reluctance to embrace change, appreciate success and progress.  Whilst its good to reflect on situations and progress, its also important to bring a bit of balance – just negative or positive can be unhelpful

What can you do?

Self-awareness is the first step and thinking through what you are saying – if you are in the camp above then ask yourself the following:

  • Is that statement/ thought really a TRUE reflection? Am I missing the positive in the situation?
  • What is going well? How can I improve or continue that?
  • Take some time to really consider your situation.
  • How much control do I have over the situation and what can I do to start improving things – no matter how small.
  • If I feel lost/ helpless, what support do I need to get me through this difficult or challenging time – can I share it, delegate it or accept it?
  • Talk through your thoughts, often saying them out loud brings a touch of reality to your thinking, but importantly other people may give you a little perspective.

So, what’s next?

  • Practice re-framing your statements to include some action to improve or change the situation.
  • Acknowledge the positive fully and with credit and plan for making improvements (no matter how big or small).
  • If you always finish a positive on a BUT, then add an extra BUT after the negative and finish on a positive.
  • Get your thoughts out of your head.  Saying these things out loud can give you a hit of reality.  Talking things through is also a great leveler, often others will see things from a different perspective or help you see the positive.

I see client’s mood, motivation and feelings of control really shift once they can re-frame their words and thoughts – it can be incredibly powerful!  If you want to talk, please do reach out.