12 Ways to Tame Your Self TalkSep 13, 2019
It’s one of the most destructive forces you’ll ever have to face and it’s inside your own head. It’s that negative, judgmental voice telling you you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, and you don’t deserve to succeed. Blair Singer calls it the “little voice.” Shad Helmstetter wrote a book on how to talk to it. It was one of the first “self-help” books I read and it was dead on. Whatever the reason, we all have a little voice inside our head and it’s annoying as heck unless you learn to train it.
The average person’s self-talk is about 75% negative. Imagine a parent or teacher constantly criticizing a child, throwing verbal abuse at them left and right. Well, sadly, we do that to ourselves. This constant negativity eats away at our mental health like the rivers that formed the Grand Canyon. The self-critic inside us is extremely destructive and it is hard to fight because it’s all in our head and it’s been going on for so long, we hardly notice.
We all have moments when we feel down about ourselves but in order to improve our mental, physical, and financial health, we need to work on ways to end our own negative self-talk. Studies have proven that we should be proactive instead of reactive in this arena, too. It will improve our health, both mentally and physically. Plus, millionaires all over the globe are constantly quoted as crediting mindset as the number one attribute that we need to conquer in order to create abundance in our lives.
For others to think positively about us, we must first think positively about ourselves. We must diminish unhealthy and unproductive thoughts and improve our self-esteem with positive self-talk and words of courage and inspiration. Being positive doesn’t mean we’ll always have happy thoughts, but it means we will be able to respond to that critic inside us in a more productive and healthy way. The more we practice, the more our positive behavior will become automatic. We’ll be able to fight off anxiety and depression and improve our health, even increase our lifespan, according to Mayo Clinic.
Here are some great ways to begin to master your self-talk:
1. Track Your Thoughts
The first step when tackling almost any challenge is becoming more aware of it. Experts say you should keep a journal of some kind and write down all your thoughts and self-talk. Once you write it down, you’ll soon be able to catch yourself in the act. You’ll begin to see patterns, like certain situations that may trigger your negative inner voice. Pay attention. Challenge the accuracy and put those thoughts “on trial.” Become a cheerleader for yourself instead of a nagging critic.
2. Be Objective
Don’t attempt to force yourself to feel positive about a negative situation, however. Research shows that you can’t fool your brain and you’ll only end up feeling worse. Instead, be objective and come from a helpful and neutral point of view. For example, don’t say “I’m so lazy – why can’t I get to the gym every day like I should?” Instead, coach yourself and say “I would love to get to the gym every day but there are simply not enough hours and I just don’t have the energy right now. I will get there as often as I can, though.”
3. Be Kind to Yourself
Show compassion and kindness to yourself. The University of Wisconsin did a study and found that you can teach yourself to show more compassion. Not only that, compassion, even towards yourself, slows down your aging process. Plus, who better to be compassionate towards but yourself? Imagine yourself as your best friend or your child. Would you ever say mean things to them? Treat yourself with the same love, respect, and kindness as you would the person you love most and would never hurt. You wouldn’t ever allow anyone else to talk to your child or your friend that way. Be a friend or a loving parent to yourself. Don’t say things to yourself that you would never say to someone you care about.
4. Keep a Gratitude List
Beginning and ending each day with a list of things you’re grateful for has a magical effect on your life. When we are feeling sad or down, gratitude changes the grim to grand. Don’t allow negative thoughts to spiral out of control. Write three new things in your journal every night and watch the magic begin. My list for today includes clean sheets and shaven legs, a bowl of chocolate ice cream with milk poured over it, and my granddaughter’s smile. Look around you and see the simple beauty of this moment of this day. Harvard Health says regularly expressing gratitude will help you to better deal with adversity and even improve your relationships with others. Give it a whirl.
5. Practice Affirmations
One way to change a thought is to use positive affirmations or passages from the Bible that inspire you. It may be difficult to stop thinking negatively at first but affirmations can become great habits. An affirmation is a positive saying that you repeat to yourself like, “I am healthy and well,” or “I am beautiful and loved.” If you catch your negative voice telling you something like, “that was dumb,” counter-attack with a positive affirmation like, “I am intelligent, quick-witted, and brilliant beyond measure.” Touché, negative voice! Keep your affirmations short, in the present tense, and, of course, positive.
6. Thank Yourself and Move On
Sometimes that little voice will not shut up and that’s when I interrupt. If I find myself in a new or uncomfortable situation where my little voice starts demeaning me relentlessly, I interrupt, thank my voice for its opinion, and move on. It’s like saying, “Hey, I appreciate your opinion but I’ve got this. Thanks.” Very often, it’s more than enough to silence it.
I know. I know. Not everyone is into meditation, especially if your mind wonders like mine. But give me a paragraph here. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to relieve stress, anxiety, and depressive thoughts. Studies have shown that most people’s minds wander when they meditate and that’s good. You can train yourself to be quiet if you want to but you can also allow your little monkey mind to wonder, directing it towards things you love and you’re grateful for. Don’t worry because you’ll get the same results either way: quiet or not. Your brain doesn’t have to be silent to get benefits from meditation. It just has to be peaceful. Allowing it to wonder and reeling it in still has the same amazing effect on your well-being. It’s taking the ten minutes that counts; breathing in, breathing out, relaxing, listening to music, nature, or nothing, and just being a peace with yourself. Also, look for our Meditation Article coming out in 2018.
8. Don’t Spin the Truth
We have a tendency to spin the truth to confirm our beliefs. If you haven’t seen our video on “Belief Systems,” you need to. What science has shown is our brain has certain beliefs, some may be true but some are not. If it believes something, it will search out evidence to support that belief. At the same time, your brain will disregard any evidence to the contrary, sometimes not even allowing your conscious mind to register it. So, you can basically be blind to the truth if your belief system says otherwise.
If we allow our little voice to tell us that we are stupid, for instance, our brain may not be allowing us to recognize or remember times when we’ve shown great intelligence. Look for facts that support your greatness and build on those facts every day. See where that little voice has spun the truth in its favor, creating a world of deception. Fix it. The truth is, you are intelligent and worthy of love. Otherwise, the source of all love wouldn’t have put this article in front of you. You are worthy and you are enough. That’s the truth.
9. Keep a Positive Traits List
Similar to the gratitude list you do each day, you should also start to keep a list of all your best and most positive traits. Look inside yourself and allow yourself to see your inner beauty, your humor, your wit, your intelligence, your charm, and your grace. Find the moments in your life when you were brave or loyal. Look at your body and notice all the beautiful parts and be grateful for all the organs inside you that are working well. Maybe you have a talent for singing or writing. Whatever it is, write it down and look for more each day. Focus on finding all the good about you because you are great!
10. Give Your Critic a Different Name
You need to separate yourself from your inner voice inside your head that is bringing you down, so give him or her a name. Creating a separate identity will allow you to work on your relationship, explain why its constant nagging isn’t working for you, and break up with them if you can’t come to an agreement. Hey! You don’t have to live with that type of abuse, so don’t. This tactic can be extremely useful, so give it a try.
11. Be Willing to be Imperfect
One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself is to stop expecting perfection. Accept that you are human and that humans make mistakes. Mistakes are really good because we learn from them and move forward. Search for “mistake quotes” on the internet and you will find some very successful and brilliant people who say that our willingness to make mistakes is crucial and a big key to our success. Stop holding yourself to unrealistic standards and liberate yourself with the freedom to screw up and fall on your face. I’ve learned way more from my screw-ups than I have from my plans that have followed through. Once you can say, “I’m not going to do that again,” you usually don’t. Allowing yourself, even pushing yourself into situations where you most assuredly will make mistakes is critical for growth. Your mind will shift when you become willing to error. You’ll improve your self-esteem and begin to laugh at yourself because you’ll finally be allowing yourself to live by experiencing all life has to offer. Perfectionism is destructive. Everyone who succeeds greatly has failed greatly and they’re okay with it. You should be, too.
12. Reach Out
Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional if you can’t get a handle on this yourself. If you’ve tried everything and your little voice is still a battering brute, it’s time to love yourself enough to get some help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or crazy, it just means your brain has gotten so used to beating you up that you need "couples’ counseling" if you’re ever going to learn to live together (I'm talking about you and the little voice in your head). Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Sometimes sharing our anger, frustration, embarrassment, and disappointment can be all it takes to let those negative feelings go. Speaking them out loud instead of keeping them locked up gives us the ability to see how unfair we are being to ourselves.
I really hope this helps you understand that you are not alone. We all have negative self-talk. However, you now have twelve more tools to help you get that little voice under control. You now know you can show yourself the same love and empathy that you show your friends. Time to take on and conquer the beast in your head. Go get ‘em, Tiger!
Michelle R Russell
© The Prosperity Process, LLC
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