Most of us are our own worst critics, and use self-talk as our method of criticism. Even the most simple of thoughts, such as thinking “I’m such an idiot” when you forget your keys can be detrimental. Negative self-talk is at the very core of low self-esteem and self-confidence, and worse, a negative attitude. All of these eat away at our ability to find happiness.
Common forms of negative self-talk include filtering – when you magnify the negative and dilute the positive, personalizing – when you automatically blame yourself for things that go wrong, polarizing – when you see things as black and white, with no gray, and catastrophizing – when you anticipate the worst. None of these are productive thought patterns. Pay attention to your reactions and your internal monologue. When you notice any of these behaviors, stop yourself. Avoid self-criticism and instead practice self-acceptance and self-respect. The more positive you are with yourself, the more positive you’ll be with the world around you.
To encourage happier thoughts, we can benefit from a simple shift in thinking. We call this “reframing.” Reframing allows us to take a seemingly negative thought and turn it into a positive. When negative thinking creeps in, reframe your thoughts to those that are more positive and productive. Here are some examples:
|Negative Thoughts||Positive Thoughts|
|I can’t do that. I don’t know how.||I can learn to do that. I get to learn something new.|
|That won’t work.||I’ll find a way to try and make it work.|
|I’m not good at this.||What can I do to get better at this?|
|That is too difficult.||Let’s give it a try.|
|They aren’t communicating with me.||I’ll find a better way to communicate with them.|
Avoid saying things to yourself that you wouldn’t dare say to anyone else. Be kind to yourself and be as gentle and encouraging with yourself as you might with a child or a grandparent.
Do you fall victim to negative self-talk? What is the most common negative self-talk you say?
Adapted from 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You. Make real, lasting change with this easy to follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get it now at Amazon.com.