One of the things that I am passionate about is challenging the negative self-talk of my clients. I am passionate about it because it has been the bane of my life and is still something I contend with regularly.
As we experience our daily lives we are constantly interpreting the situations we find ourselves in both on a conscious as well as unconscious level. Self talk can be useful when used in a reasonable way such as ‘I must study for that exam’ or ‘I’m really looking forward to that party’. However when our self talk is unreasonable, unrealistic or self defeating it can be devastating. ‘I’m useless, stupid, I’m going to fail etc. etc.’
Learning to notice and challenge your own negative self talk takes practice but by replacing the irrational, unhelpful and untrue parts with more realistic thoughts it will make you feel so much better and give you the ability to respond in a more useful way.
So how do you challenge it?
1. Test the reality of what you are thinking.
- Weigh the evidence for and against your current thinking?
- Decide is your thoughts are factual, or if they are your own interpretation of events?
- Are you jumping to negative conclusions?
- Am I exaggerating?
2. Is there another explanation?
- If you were being positive, how could you look at this situation?
- What else could it mean?
- How would someone else see the situation – put yourself in their position. We are often so much harder on ourselves.
3. Have a little perspective.
- Is the situation as bad as you really think it is?
- What is the worst thing that could happen?
- What is the best thing that could happen?
- Is there anything good about this situation? (As one door closes another opens)
- Will this situation matter in five years time? Will you even remember it?
4. Solution focused thinking.
- Is your current thinking in this situation helping you to feel good or to achieve your goals?
- What can you do that will help you solve the problem and achieve your goals?
- Is there something that you can learn from the situation that will help you do it/think it different if something similar happens again?
Any time you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself challenge it by asking yourself these questions. It will take time and practice but the results will be well worth it.