Negative self-talk can be very damaging to our sense of self and our overall happiness. Today I want to explore how we can silence that voice that sits inside many of our heads telling us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. Sometimes it feels like the voice is too loud and it’s impossible to bring down the volume. Today we will explore the different ways we can silence that voice for good and through that silence let more peace into our lives.
One of the most difficult parts about negative self-talk is that the things we tell ourselves are oftentimes true. This could lead you to think that if what I’m saying to myself is true, then shouldn’t I make the space to share these things with myself? The answer to that is no, and I’ll tell you why. Sometimes the truth is not helpful, it’s hurtful and painful. We’ll explore the fine line between brutal and hurtful honesty and constructive information that can help us better ourselves today.
For example, let’s say you’re interested in losing some weight and becoming healthier. Negative self-talk in this situation may mean you look in the mirror and think “I’m ugly, I hate the way I look.” These thoughts can feel very real to us, but they will not serve us in our pursuit of happiness.
Human beings have a tendency to say really hurtful things to ourselves that we would never dream of saying to someone else. When we notice that we’re speaking to ourselves in a way that we wouldn’t speak to others, we must ask ourselves if the messages are helpful or not. It’s important to differentiate between thinking things that are harmful to our self-worth and thinking things that are targeted to gently remind us of the things we want to improve.
We are capable of improving upon anything in our lives, even if we can’t change certain things like getting older or a physical disability, we can learn to adjust and accept our circumstances. That’s the key to turning around negative self-talk. We must recognize that when we speak this way, we’re only further hurting and keeping ourselves stuck in the very place we want to grow out of. And we must remember that most of the time we have the power to change things, whether it be our actual situation or our mindset. Meaning that the things we judge ourselves for may no longer be true at a certain point.
Let’s use some examples.
Before we dive in, take a second and think of something you personally struggle with when it comes to negative self-talk. As we go through the steps to combat our own negative self-talk, think of the example you came up with so you can apply it to your life.
To overcome this pattern, we must first be aware of it. If you’re not sure if this is something you do, ask yourself if you’re ever self-critical throughout your day. Let’s use the example of the desire to lose weight again to illustrate. For those folks who speak negatively to themselves regarding their weight, they might pass by a mirror and think “You look fat and horrible.” Or they might see a photo of themselves that they hate and think “I look awful and disgusting,” Those are horrible thoughts and things we would never say to someone else. So why do we find these things acceptable to say to ourselves?
If you were trying to motivate a friend to lose weight or work through a personal issue, you might say, “I love you just the way you are and I support you as you work through something that is difficult. I’m here in any way that you need me.” I believe that we can speak to ourselves in this way too, it just might take some practice.
Once we’re aware of our negative self-talk, the next step is to change it. More specifically, we must replace the negative self-talk with kindness and compassion. The more we practice kindness and love towards ourselves, the easier it will be for us to reach our goals.
In addition to being aware of how we speak to ourselves, it’s important to notice if we’re spending time with people who also participate in negative self-talk. If you do, you can either cut ties with those people or set some clear boundaries with them. For example, if you spend time with someone who criticizes things like your success, career, looks, etc., it’s important to tell them to stop. Allowing others to express their own insecurities onto you will only further negatively affect your self-worth and the way you speak to yourself. At the end of the day, it’s only important what WE think of ourselves, not others.
Negative self-talk, and negativity in general, can be amplified on social media. People feel safe behind their screens and are more emboldened than ever before to share their opinions with the world. People can be cruel in this online space, and we should do our best to not participate in that negativity. It will only perpetuate our own negativity towards ourselves.
Over the years, I’ve worked with many well-known celebrities. A common theme amongst these famous people was how much they were affected by words they read on social media. We must remember that our words matter and that someone is on the receiving end of the comments or messages we leave. Because of this, it’s important to show kindness towards everyone. When we show kindness towards others, we’ll become better at being kind to ourselves.
In addition to practicing kindness towards others, it’s important to practice thinking kind thoughts about others. And when we slip up and find ourselves engaging with negative thoughts, we shouldn’t criticize ourselves, we simply correct the behavior and move on.
Changing our habits is difficult, changing our thought patterns is even more difficult. If we make a concerted effort to change the way we speak to people and think about people, we will reap the benefits. A beautiful outcome of positive self-talk is radical self-acceptance. And when we love ourselves, our love and compassion pour out into the world and make it a better place.