“I am not good enough.”
“I don’t even deserve it anyway.”
“I will never be able to finish that, why bother.
“I always end up feeling like this.”
Do any of these sound familiar? Don’t worry we all do it at some point in our lives: negatively talk to ourselves. Even though studies have shown that negative people (and thinking) normally leads to being more depressed and unsatisfied with life, we can’t help ourselves.
On the other hand, when you experience and turn your attention to positive thinking, a funny thing happens: we flood our brains with the feel good chemical, endorphins. This helps us be more alert, relaxed and grounded within ourselves, just like I talked about in a previous podcast.
Reduce physical pain
Even physical pain can be greatly reduced by just looking on the bright side of things. It can spur an increased ability to feel pleasure. Or make you feel more confident, and motivated toward whatever goals you presently have. For many, simply ‘thinking positively‘ is easier said than done. (I’m looking at you chronic ‘realists’). Sometimes negative self-talk and thinking is just a by-product of our past experiences and/or who we surround ourselves with. It may even just be a habit of how we talk to ourselves, which is why it’s important to regularly catch yourself in the act of negative (inaccurate) self talk and thinking.
But, I have some amazing news…YOU are in total control of your thoughts! All your thoughts originate from you and your energy.
In short, all hope isn’t lost. You can still learn to consciously choose to toss the nay saying and start ‘Yay’ saying. This will help you start creating a more fulfilling, productive and happier life. So, let us discuss three common negative self-talk pitfalls that many of us fall into on a sometimes daily basis.
1. Fortune Telling Thinking
Easily identified as a mental habit of “predicting” what will happen with no (or little) actual evidence. Examples: Met a stranger on the train and traded numbers — “She’s obviously not going to ever call me.” — After giving a presentation at work — “Everyone hated it and I’m not getting promoted.”
Quick fix: “I hope she calls me!” or “I may have missed the promotion this time but I’ll try again if I get the chance.”
When we think of the worst case scenario it’s easy for our minds to follow us there. It’s an unfortunate side effect of not flexing your imagination and can lead to loads of anxiety and hyper-arousal.
2. Black and White Thinking
This is the thinking that makes us evaluate things only in the scope of extremes. Examples: You just had a recent date that seemed lukewarm — “Jeez, I really screwed that up.” — If you received a B+ on an exam — “Ugh I’m such an idiot!”
Quick fix: “Maybe she thought my bad joke was funny.” or “I did my best and I’m proud of myself.”
We do this most when we think about our own personal qualities or character traits. When viewing things this way, it is bound to set us up for tremendous disappointment. If expectations are exaggerated over and over, we can never live up to them and then we feel we’ve failed ourselves!
When we tell ourselves that something bad is inevitable and will continue to happen in the future, this is overgeneralizing. Examples: If you missed the train — “Of course! I always miss the train.” — Didn’t get picked for the position at work — “I’m never getting a raise. I should quit and look for something else.
Quick fix: “I missed the train but that gives me extra time for the next one’s arrival.” or “I’ll try harder next time and ask for feedback.”
This is another self destructive way of thinking that involves predicting (Fortune Telling Thinking) what may or may not happen, all based on very narrow pieces of evidence from the past and assumptions on our part.
It’s very likely that either we, or someone we know, probably exhibits some common forms of negative-talk like these and others. Changing your usual way of thinking and the way you talk to yourself can be an huge undertaking! This is even more of a challenge when this is a long-standing way of thinking. It becomes a part of us.
In the meantime take inventory of your self talk. Pay special attention to what type of conversations you have with yourself. Are these conversations positive and affirming or the opposite? Practice catching yourself when they are negative and try some of these quick fixes if you need a place to start.