Negavite Self-Talk – Most of the time we are not even aware that we are doing it.
Throughout the course of normal conversation, many of us use negative self-talk. While planning our goals and dreams we stop ourselves from even starting by saying things like “I can’t…” “I’m not good enough,” or “I could never do this” This and the subtle little things that we say while on conversational autopilot that eat away at our self-confidence.
How many times have you heard someone say things like “that was dumb of me”, “typical of me to put my foot in it”, “I am so stupid” etc. My mother used to say that all the time when things din’t work quite the way she wanted them to. She did not even realize she was calling herself stupid. Even though I used to ask her not to do it, she continued out of pure habit. Fact is her confidence was very low and that was not surprising. I love you Mom!
Sometimes the negative comments are disguised as humor. “I’m just a country pumpkin,” “Oh well, what do you expect from a dumb blonde,” or “I think my mom dropped me one too many times as a baby!” The fact that anyone should feel a need to make excuses for themselves means that they have low self-confidence.
It is a subtle and difficult pattern to break. Most people do it without noticing that they are even doing it. It is said with the same automatic reponse as the “Fine, thanks” that always follows a “How are you?”
To get rid of it I recommend that you ask someone to help you. For example, in the Toastmaster Clubs you will be told when you have used fillers like Um, Ah, soooooo, or ya’ know. Words that are not necessary to bring your content across but that you use to fill the nervous gaps. We do not know we are doing it until someone points it out to us. After awhile, the speakers begin to hear these fillers themselves and stop using them. It will work similar with your negative self-talk.
It’s simple but it’s not easy. Offer to help a friend to overcome their automated negative comments by playing the same game with them. If they are guilty of saying a particular derogatory statement repeatedly, offer to help them to break the pattern. If you can admit to yourself that you are one of those people who say negative things about yourself or to yourself without even really thinking about it, then ask someone to help you. You would be amazed at how quickly you can stop the behavior if someone will just make you take notice. Self-awareness is the key to ending negative self-talk.
In case you are too embarrassed to ask for help, or you do not have anyone that you would trust enough to help you, you will have to make a huge effort to become more aware of the words you speak to yourself or during casual conversation. It is much more difficult, but still do-able.
Imagine that the negative statements are cuss words. You would not want to throw those kind of words around your boss, your grandma or worse, around children, would you? Attach the same ‘No way!’ attitude to those negative self-talk statements. Start really listening to yourself. You will soon find out that you beat yourself up frequently for no reason whatsoever. So when you catch yourself rattling off these negative statements, just take notice and make a promise to yourself that you will stop. Keep noticing, until you do stop.
An even more effective way to stop negative self talk is to put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever these negative thoughts come up. That’s the fastest way to get rid of negative, disempowering thoughts and words.