Have you ever wanted to just shut that inner voice up for good? The one that beats you up and tells you horrible lies… about yourself? Everyone has an inner voice, but sometimes that nasty voice gets the best of us and creates a breeding ground for negative self-talk and destructive behaviors.
Negative self-talk isn’t all bad. Sometimes we need the “voice of reason” to reel us back in when we might be on the verge of making a bad decision. For instance, if you’re about to attempt something that compromises the safety of yourself or others, you might need that inner critic to jump up and remind you the risk outweighs the reward.
On the other hand, negative self-talk oftentimes comes in the form of inaudible dialogue with yourself that makes you question even the smallest decisions, things you know you are quite capable of handling. It brings on self-doubt, crushes confidence and pretty much paralyzes the ability to make positive changes.
Defending Against Negative Self-Talk
Using positive affirmations is the best defense against negative self-talk. And yes, while some people find it useful to place sticky notes with encouraging phrases and quotes all over the house and workspace, that doesn’t work for all of us.
Even though the notes are carefully posted in places we are sure to see them, they eventually get ignored due to familiarity, or because we don’t even believe them in the first place.
Thankfully there are strategies that actually work to stop the negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations!
You don’t have to “convince” yourself or repeat some mantra to get the job done. It takes a little critical thinking, but you can absolutely retrain your brain with a more objective game plan.
Here’s how to get started:
What’s Your Trigger?
You have to identify the times your inner negative dialogue begins. It might be when you are facing new challenges at work or getting ready for a blind date. Before you can stop it, you have to know when it starts.
Allow for a Gray Area
Not everything is black and white. Don’t limit yourself to thinking things are either good or bad, wonderful or horrible, beautiful or ugly. There is a middle ground, a place where there is neutrality and calmness.
Think of the last decision you made: Did the result come out exactly perfect or absolutely awful? There’s probably a grey area in there and you haven’t given it a second thought. If the results weren’t positive, they must be negative, right?
Wrong! It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Identify the grey area and it takes some of the stress out of the decision.
When we talk negatively to ourselves, we are basically talking ourselves out of whatever we have planned, or want to plan. During times like this we need to go ahead and play out the worst possible scenario in our heads. The worst-case scenario rarely happens but ask yourself how you will handle the situation anyway.
Reframe & Replace
The easiest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with something good. For instance, a smoker might replace cigarettes with suckers. Now that you know your trigger, have realized there is a grey area, worked through the worst-case scenario, it’s time to reframe and replace.
Replace the negative thought with something positive: “I’ll never be good enough” could be reframed by using something you are good at as a focal point for a positive affirmation like, “I’m a very good listener” or “I’m pretty good at organizing things.”
Using Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations don’t have to be limited to quotes thoughtfully posted all over your home, as stated above. There are lots of ways to work in positive affirmations without lifting a finger.
You just have to train your mind to identify where to apply them. When you get more comfortable noticing the triggers to negative self-talk, arming yourself with positive affirmations becomes second nature.
Here are a few easy ways to incorporate using positive affirmations:
Embrace your flaws and imperfections – everybody has them!
Face your fears – take baby steps and conquer fears that hold you back!
Meditation – being mindful and intention in thought is incredibly powerful!
Do what makes you happy – if you’re happy doing it, you’re probably good at it! Use this as fuel!
Be good to you – take time for self-care! It’s hard to be negative when you feel good inside and out!
Be grateful – negative self-talk doesn’t have a place in a grateful mind.
Surround yourself with positivity – positive people attract other positive people!
Negative self-talk can affect so many areas of life, from personal to professional, nothing is exempt. When we retrain our brains to choose positivity over the negative thought patterns, we create a more healthy and happy life.
The best part about stopping negative self-talk and using positive affirmations is that the power is in our own hands. After all, we are the only ones in control of our own thoughts!