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Self-talk is that internal dialogue that we have with ourselves and if you’re anything like me, that internal dialogue doesn’t shut the hell up! It’s constantly rambling on and on like a roomful of monkeys and some moments we don’t notice it at all and other moments we want to tear our brains out to shut it up (can I tell you how awesome a little meditation is?!). But what happens if this internal dialogue is saying things like “I can’t do this”, or “I’m too old/young/fat/stupid/etc. to do _______”, or even worse, “I’ll never get this weight off”? This is negative self-talk and if you wouldn’t let someone say something like that to your loved ones, it’s time to stop saying it to yourself!

Negative self-talk does nothing but hold you back in life. It stops you from getting the love you deserve, having the career you want, doing what you want and it even keeps the weight on that you so desperately want to lose. If you yourself are telling you that you can’t lose weight, how on earth do you expect to actually lose it?!

Typical examples of negative self-talk come from the following:

  • Filtering towards the negative – Focusing only on the negative aspects of a situation instead of the positive (i.e., you gave a speech that garnered you a standing ovation but instead of remembering that, you simply remembered the one moment you stuttered on a word).
  • Personalizing – In a word, you make everything about you. If someone close to you whispers to another person you think they’re whispering about you. If a friend cancels on a dinner date due to illness, you think they’re lying and that they cancelled because they don’t like you.
  • Anticipating the worst – Always thinking about the worst possible scenario that could happen in any given circumstance. You decide not to sign up for a 5k run because you think you’ll be the last person to cross the finish line or you won’t even be able to finish at all!
  • Seeing things only as black or white – I’ll only be happy when I’m thin! I can’t possibly be happy and fat at the same time. You can’t see that it’s actually possible to be thin and unhappy or overweight and happy.

How To Break Free From Negative Self-Talk

The good thing is that you don’t have to live this way forever. Although it’s not easy to switch to a more positive mode of talking to yourself after years of talking down to yourself, it can be done! Using a mixture of some or all of the following techniques will require practice but the more you practice the easier it will become. You may not break free from negative self-talk forever but you can control it’s frequency!

 

Note your negative thoughts

For one or two days, take note of how often you engage in negative self-talk and write them down. This will help you to become more aware of how often you do this and in what ways.

 

Focus on being productive

Negative thinking isn’t productive, it makes you stuck. When you’re in a stressful situation, instead of thinking negatively about it, ask yourself instead how you’re going to solve it. Not only does this distract your negative thinking but you wind up taking positive steps towards solving the problem or facing the situation head-on instead of balking and doing nothing.

 

Surround yourself with positive people

There’s a saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If this is true then you may find that you need more positive people in your life, their attitude will feed your own attitude!

 

Get a reality check

If you engage in any of the behaviours I noted above (filtering, personalizing, anticipating the worst and seeing things in black or white) then you’re going to need to get a reality check from time to time. Ask a trusted friend or relative if your thoughts reflect what is actually going on or whether you’re polarizing/personalizing/filtering, etc. Sometimes you just need another perspective to get yours on the right track.

 

Create a mantra

Create a positive mantra that you can turn to the moment you notice that you’re thinking negatively such as “Yeah, this is hard but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it” or “I’m doing the best I can with what I have”. Note that I’m not asking you to bulls**t yourself! You know if you’re lying to yourself! If you’re not good at soccer, telling yourself you ARE good at soccer most likely won’t work but you can say to yourself “I may not be great at defence but I’m a pretty good goalie”. Or “No, I’m not that great at soccer but I’m really great at baseball.”

Comments

  1. This is really, REALLY good stuff, Therese!!!!

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