With the Fourth of July approaching, the motif of freedom has been on my mind. This celebratory season got be thinking about what I want to free myself of this summer. One of the big items that popped into my mind was negative self-talk!
We all have an internal voice inside of us that can say negative comments when we are vulnerable. Unfortunately, this can grow out of proportion and take its toil, leading to lower confidence and even depression. Try out these 7 tips to challenge that nasty critic inside of your head!
Become mindful of the nagging voice in your head.
The first step to overcoming negative self-talk is to become intune to the thoughts. Unfortunately, these thoughts can be automatic and often start to seem normal. They can creep their way into our heads and put us down without us being conscious of the effects. Start by listening to your inner voice. What is it saying? Are the words hurtful? Is the dialogue bringing up emotions of worthlessness, guilt, shame, etc? Maybe you hear someone telling you that you are not worth that promotion at work. Or perhaps it is telling you that you will never be able to hike to the top of that mountain.
It can be helpful to jot these thoughts down with pen and paper (or in the Notes application on your cell phone). Once you are able to identify these thoughts, you can start to confront them.
Put your thoughts into perspective.
Once you have identified the thoughts, check the reality of that is being said. Try to step outside of yourself and take a realistic perspective. Ask yourself, “is this statement true?” “Would your best friend or mother agree to the statement?” Chances are the answer is “no.”
Another way to step outside of your head is to try to identify the physical manifestations the feelings have created. Is your face flushed or your palms sweaty? Do you have butterflies in your tummy or tears forming in your eyes? Become aware of your body to keep yourself in the moment.
By performing the exercise of writing down the thoughts mentioned above, you are externalizing the thoughts. This allows you to take a step back and analyze that critical voice.
Find other ways to reframe the thoughts.
Put a different spin on the negative statement. If your critical self is making definitive statements, reword it to be a statement about your feelings about the particular situation. Make your new statement about the moment, instead of a general statement about your personality. For example, “I am fat” can be reframed as “I feel insecure in this dress.” Another example is “I am lazy” should be changed to “I am feeling less productive at this moment.”
After you have identified the negative self-talk and have reframed it, come up with ways to solve the problem and address the emotions. One good solution is to journal about your feelings. What is the root cause of these emotions? Maybe you are feeling insecure in one of your relationships and need to have a conversation with that loved one. Or perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed by your new job and need to ask your supervisor for additional training.
We all deserve to treat ourselves with love and respect. Self-care is the perfect way to improve your mood and love yourself. Even when you aren’t feeling down, setting aside time for yourself can build up your confidence and help relief stress.
Self-care can come in many forms. Examples include:
- Get a massage
- Go out to a movie
- Paint your nails
- Take a long bath
- Go for a walk around the block
- Cuddle up with a good book
- Open up an adult coloring book (Check out this post on reasons to try adult coloring books )
- Try yoga or meditation
Reach out for support.
Challenging negative self-talk is not an easy task so don’t do it alone. Speak to your family, friends or significant other for advice. An outside perspective can help you to provide you with a reality check. Sometimes opening up to loved ones is difficult (trust me, I know!). If you do not feel comfortable confiding in those who know you well, consider meeting with a psychologist or search for support groups. Those environments may be best for providing you with an unbiased, fresh point of view.
The internal critic inside of you is not easy to confront. It takes time and practice, so be patient. Continue to work on this each day with little steps. Eventually, you will get there!
Until next time,