Do You Ever Say Things Like This to Yourself?
“I know that I won’t succeed, so whats the point of trying?”
“I’m just not a very creative person”
“The worst always happens to me”
“I’m not bright enough or pretty enough”
“The problems I’m having now will go on forever”
“My life sucks, I will never be happy”
Everyone is guilty of engaging in negative self-talk from time to time. In fact, the average human has over 50,000 internal thoughts each day, some of which are positive, neutral, and negative. A healthy person will have around 2 positive thoughts for each negative thought. However, it can cause serious mental and emotional problems in our lives if we start believing our negative self-talk. Problems that arise include increased stress, depression, and other psychological damage. Learn how to stop negative thoughts from creeping into your self-talk, and improve your life in the process.
Awareness of negative self-talk (ST) is the first step in making a change. If start to recognize when we are engaging in negative ST, we can begin bringing about corrections in our thinking. If you are in a depressed or saddened mood examine the thoughts you are having. Are they focusing on your defects or shortcomings? Are they adding to your negative mental state? Realizing when and how we engage in negative ST can be an awakening for us, revealing just how prevalent these self-defeating habits are.
The next step in overcoming these behaviors is to examine our thoughts under a realistic and unbiased lens. When we say things like “My girlfriend dumped me, something is wrong with me, I’ll never be in love again!”, we may start to believe it. However when we look at it from a ‘third-person’ point of view or logically we can see the faults in such thinking. Thousands of people are broken-up with each day and is never a fun experience. But this does not mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with us or that we will never find love again. In fact, most people go through a few bad breakups before finding true love or getting happily married. The reality is that a breakup does not mean you are unlovable or destined to be unhappy. When we dissect our negative self-talk we can find the irrationality and errors in it.
The last step is to begin replacing our negative thoughts with neutral or positive thoughts. For many, this is a lifelong process, and even the most positive people experience negative thoughts on a daily basis. They don’t give credence to these thoughts tho, and don’t allow them to drastically affect their emotional or mental health. After we identify our negative thoughts and expose the errors, we can replace them with more realistic and accurate thoughts. How do we do this? Practice, practice, practice. The more we attempt to change our negative thoughts into positive ones, the easier it becomes.
“First of all, you have to recognize this is something that is affecting your life in a negative way and have the desire to break this habit – that’s all it is, a bad habit. Be aware that it may take a while, however, because chances are, you’ve been doing this to yourself for many years” – Karen S. LMHC
Eventually we start to do it automatically and the negative thoughts become less frequent. This process comes more easily to some people, but anyone can improve their thought quality with a dedicated effort.