Negative self-talk is any conversation you have with yourself that is potentially limiting your ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities and in turn impacting your ability to reach your potential. It is any thought that minimizes your power to act and make positive changes in your life or your belief in yourself to do so.
At some point in time, we’ve all been very hard on ourselves.
Whether we're conscious of it or not, our beliefs can sometimes be very damaging to our self-esteem. Unfortunately, these negative talking points in our head sometimes keep us stuck in a rut.
These negative conversations create a cycle of mistrust within ourselves and further stops us from moving forward. Let’s discover how you can stop this vicious cycle and turn your self-talk into words that support and encourage you, instead.
3 Steps To Stop The Negative Conversations You Are Having With Yourself About Yourself
Pay Attention to Triggers
The first step to stopping negative self-talk is figuring out what is triggering these negative beliefs in the first place.
Albert Ellis, a psychological pioneer, called these so-called triggers “activating events.”
These can be everyday occurrences that happen to us or around us. They can include anything from having your boss or supervisor yell at you and take away your project to experiencing a run-in collision with a deer on a country road. There are a wide variety of things that can be an activating event, and they vary from person=to-person
Are you in conflict with another? Did something not go your way?
Further, triggers can also be incredibly personal to you and unique to your life. These are sometimes referred to as “red flags.”
Red flags are issues that pertain to you and you alone, such as your weight, family and other close relationships, integrity, and anything else that you may feel to be cherished and sacred.
When these issues get raised, they immediately set off an alarm within you.
Identify Irrational Beliefs
Irrational beliefs are the real culprits behind why we get upset or angry at the triggers we've experienced. According to Ellis, it's not the trigger itself, but the beliefs we have that cause the negative self-talk.
Ellis claimed that these irrational beliefs are responsible for our emotional states, also known as the consequences of our beliefs.
In this way, by identifying and then changing these beliefs, we can experience fewer emotional consequences.
For example, let's look at this process:
You just learned that you got turned down for a promotion at work.
Getting turned down for the promotion is the activating event or trigger.
The underlying thoughts or irrational beliefs you might be having include, “I'm never going to advance my career,” “My boss hates me,” or even “My boss is never fair to me.”
These beliefs or thoughts can lead to emotional consequences of sadness and even depression.
The sadness and depression stop you in your tracks.
Dispute Irrational Beliefs
The idea behind identifying these negative, irrational beliefs is so you can do something to change them.
You can change them by challenging these beliefs. This is a process of examining the truth and reality and seeing that it is actually different from your belief.
In the example we just used of getting turned down for a promotion, a series of questions can be asked to help you sort through reality from these irrational beliefs.
You want to challenge yourself by asking questions that are almost the opposite of your identified beliefs.
Some of these challenge questions may be:
What is the truth in this situation?
Do I have evidence to support that my current beliefs are true?
In the example above, you can ask yourself:
- Are there times when my boss has actually been fair?
- Is it true that I'll never advance in my career, or is this just a minor setback?
These questions can help you identify the truth from what you may wrongly believe or negatively think about a situation.
If you can identify the truth, this can lead you to think differently and avoid suffering the emotional consequences of the trigger altogether.
Follow this process whenever you notice thoughts that knock you off your path.
Change your beliefs and you'll find your self-talk becoming words of encouragement, instead.