We all know how hurtful it is when someone says something negative about us. But what if the person speaking negatively about you is you? Negative self-talk is difficult for anyone to avoid, and it’s far too common these days with the many pressures of society and social media. But there are ways to transform negative self-talk into self-love that energizes you.
Recognizing the appearance of negative self-talk is the first step, but that alone may not be enough to help you overcome your negative thoughts. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to seek support from your doctor or a therapist. Fortunately, there are more options than ever before for seeking support. Many people are turning to online therapy for its ease of use and convenience. With online therapy, you can meet with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Whatever route you choose, just don’t hesitate to seek support if you need it. There is help out there.
Let’s take a look now at how to identify some of the most common forms of negative self-talk, and ways to overcome them.
Personalization: The Negative Self-Talk Type That’s All About You
There are many forms of negative self-talk. The personalizing form of negative self-talk is an easy way to make any bad situation feel even worse. In personalizing, you blame yourself when something bad happens. It doesn’t matter whether the situation is your fault or not. This toxic form of self-talk means you take the situation personally. Then fail to take into account the facts surrounding a situation, and that mistakes can happen to anyone.
An example of this might be booking a girls’ trip to Florida, and it ends up raining the whole trip. You then spend the whole trip feeling stressed about how your friends will dislike you for picking the wrong vacation destination. But how could you have known when you booked your trip that a random storm would blow through town?
When you feel yourself sliding into taking personal blame for a situation, practice thinking about what is and isn’t within your control. Make a list of things that are within your sphere of control and those outside of it, like the weather. Look at the items that are outside of your control, and list some reasons why they’re out of your control. The more we personalize situations that aren’t our fault, the more out of control we will feel. That often leads to stress and anxiety because we’re trying to exert control over an outcome we don’t have the ability to control. Work towards more positive steps by focusing your time and energy on the items that are within your control.
Minimization and Magnification – Two Opposite Ways To Think Negatively
These two forms of cognitive distortion are opposite versions of each other that lead to the same negative frame of mind. In magnification, we blow a small event out of proportion. For example, if you bought the wrong kind of rice at the grocery store. You could begin to think that your partner will leave for getting this small task wrong. This form of negative self-talk is also sometimes called catastrophizing.
Conversely, minimization is when we downplay our strengths, and don’t give ourselves credit for the accomplishments and achievements we’ve earned. When we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the good things we’ve done, it can be equally destructive to maintaining positive feelings.
Are You Trying To Be A Mind Reader?
Do you secretly believe you can read someone’s mind? Well grab your crystal ball, because you may be right at home with this insidious form of negative self-talk. Here’s how the mind reading form negative self-talk works. Let’s say you try to guess what someone else is thinking when you’re out on a date. You assume the person isn’t interested in you. Then you decide to take off after one drink because you don’t think they like you. When the truth is probably going to take longer to know.
The point is you’re making a decision based on a negative thought pattern, not what is actually happening in the moment. To redirect this form of negative self-talk, do something to make sure you correctly understand what’s going on. In the example of someone being out on a date, try asking the person what they’re thinking before you decide to call it quits. You might not get the answer you expected, and things are actually better than you imagined. But you might not find out unless you challenge those negative thoughts and assumptions that come with mind reading.
Negative Overgeneralizing Statements
When we overgeneralize, we tend to use statements like “always”, when the reality is most things are never completely one thing or the other. This is particularly true of us as complicated and flawed human beings. So to make sweeping generalizations about the people in our lives can distort the way you see someone, which can lead to damage in relationships.
When dealing with a situation or disagreement, be sure to exam instances where you make overgeneralized statements that include the words “never”, “everything”, “nothing” and “always”. Then adjust your words to be more inclusive of our perfectly imperfect human nature. Instead of “always”, try leaving room for more open-ended words like “sometimes”.
While we’re booting some negative words out of our vocabularies, look at curtailing “should” statements. “Should” statements can lead us away from appreciating the present the moment by wishing something else would take place.
“Should” statements can also come from a judgmental place. Like thinking people “should” always be punctual, and not thinking about all the very real ways things can go wrong in a day to make someone late. Anyone could run into a traffic jam or have an emergency that causes them to run late. It can be hurtful and harmful to judge anyone harshly, especially yourself. Leave room for human error, and leave out the negative self-talk and judgment to bring more positivity into your life.
Stopping negative self-talk isn’t easy, and that’s okay. The reality is that many of us speak negatively to ourselves more than we should, or are even aware of. Negative self-talk can come in many forms, and it’s important to seek help if you feel the weight of negative feelings overwhelming you. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often considered an effective treatment, as is online cognitive behavioral therapy.
No matter where you are in your journey, know that there’s help out there. You don’t have to go it alone, there are ways to challenge your negative self-talk and improve your mental wellbeing.
Presented by BetterHelp