Practical Steps to Limit Negative Self-Talk
Negativity Bias. Have you heard that phrase?
I don’t know about you, but I like to think that I’ve evolved quite a bit from my cro-magnon ancestors. I understand that they had to pay attention to dangerous and negative threats. For them, it was literally a matter of life and death. They were on high alert for any negative stimuli.
And yet, 25,000 years later, as humans, we still tend to
- Remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones
- Recall insults better than praise
- Think about negative things more frequently than positive ones
- Learn more from negative outcomes and experiences
- Make decisions based on negative information more than positive data
Have you ever humiliated yourself in front of your friends years ago and can still remember the event as if it happened yesterday? And do you find yourself still cringing with embarrassment over it, even if you have a hunch that your friends have long forgotten it?
Have you ever received a performance review at work that was positive overall but had a couple of critical comments as to where and how you could improve and found yourself fixating on those remarks? So, instead of feeling good about the overall positive review, you were upset about the few critical comments?
That’s negativity bias.
And our negativity bias can quickly lead to negative self-talk, which impacts our lives in more ways that we can imagine. Without realizing it, we become our own worst enemies, stripping ourselves of self-confidence and peace of mind. Left unchecked, this lack of positivity in our lives can start affecting our health, leaving us worried and stressed, unable to relax.
How can we fix it? How can we turn this around (or can we)?
I’ve tried a few things with limited success and a few things with more success. I’ve tried ignoring my negative thinking. I’ve tried saying affirmations. I’ve tried pretending everything was okay. These strategies didn’t work out too well for me (but I’m giving myself credit for trying to overcome my negative thinking).
The following practical actions worked out better. And I continue to follow these actions based on what my inner wisdom tells me I need in the moment.
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.
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.’
Mindset Mastery Checklist
Use my Mindset Mastery Made Simple Daily Guide to rate your overall mindset daily for two weeks. Knowing you’ll be rating your mindset daily helps keep you aware of your thoughts and attitudes. And when you’re aware, you are less likely to fall into old, sub-conscious patterns of negative thinking.
Next, try following these three steps to put positive self-talk in action:
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.
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.
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.
By tracking what you do and acting with intentionality to change the situation, you’ll discover life looks different. You’re feeling more relaxed and can 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.
Say "YES" to yourself by Taking Action!
Janet is an effective 'Belief Change Expert' who guides overwhelmed, over-committed, and busy women to rediscover their joy and purpose so they are excited and energized about their future and move from feeling like a failure to feeling unstoppable. Janet can help you get the rapid results you are looking for and live your aligned life.
If you are ready to step out of fear and self-doubt so you can reclaim your authenticity and power and create the inspiring, elegant, courageous, passionate, bold, and badass life you were born to live, Janet can help you get the results you are longing for.
Click on the button below to download the free Mindset Mastery Made Simple guide referred to in the blog. Enjoy!