HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU noticed yourself thinking about the same thing over and over again, especially when you feel you messed up or don’t feel great about yourself?
If you take a step back you may realize that beating yourself up doesn’t actually do anything positive. <– TWEET THIS
Negative self-talk has a significant impact on our health.
There are some great benefits to being kind and gentle to ourselves.
Research by the Mayo Clinic has shown that improving self-talk has many health benefits:
- increases life span
- lowers rates of depression
- increases coping skills during times of stress
- decreases cardiovascular disease
Changing your negative thoughts in 5 steps:
Step 1 – Identify negative self-talk
Take a look at the list of negative self-talk statements below. There are 10 types of negative self-talk statements. I bet you are harder on yourself then you think!
1. Should statements: Blaming yourself when things don’t get done.
“I should have gone grocery shopping, but I didn’t have time.”
Instead of “I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping; maybe I can go tomorrow.”
2. Black-and-white thinking: There is no middle ground.
“I didn’t get a job that I applied for; I’m a failure.”
Instead of “I didn’t get the job I applied for, but maybe next time I will.”
3. Ignoring the Positives: You only hear the negative.
You made dinner for your husband and he says: “The food was good; maybe next time you can use a bit less salt.”
You hear that as: “My husband hated the food.”
4. Overgeneralizing: You base your opinion on one mistake.
For example, “I didn’t do well on that presentation; every other presentation I do will fail too!”
5. Jumping To Conclusions: You automatically assume the worst.
You see somebody you know on the street and they don’t say hi. You assume they are ignoring you, and not that they might not have seen you.
6. Personalizing: You think you are to blame for something that happens, when it usually has nothing to do with you.
For example, when people are not having a good time at a bar, you think it is your fault because you are not fun enough.
7. Labeling: You call yourself names like “stupid” or “dumb” when you do something wrong instead of thinking that you simply made a mistake.
8. Catastophizing: You magnify everything and see everything as the worst possible outcome.
For example, you lost $1,000 in the stock market, and you now think you have no money and will ultimately lose everything.
9. Blaming Others: You blame others for things you have done wrong because you cannot handle being wrong.
You didn’t get a raise, so you convince yourself that it is because your boss didn’t like you, and not because you may not have deserved it.
10. Inappropriate Comparison: You compare yourself to everyone else.
If your friend gets married, instead of being happy for her you think: “Nobody will ever want to marry me.”
Step 2 – Track it down
Start tracking your negative statements by carrying a notepad around with you for a week and writing down any time you notice your patterns coming through in your thoughts.
It can be hard to see on paper what your say to yourself in your head, and it can lead to even more negative self-talk:
“Do I really think that? I’m hopeless. I’ll never change.”
But the first step in becoming friends with your mind is really hearing what it says to you. Don’t beat yourself up! Just listen to yourself.
Step 3 – Neutralize your thoughts
Take your statement and come up with a more “neutral” alternative, as shown in step 1. After you have mastered the neutral statement, you can focus on making it positive.
Step 4 – Identify your insecurities and areas for improvement
If your goal is to become a better public speaker, do not start agreeing to do presentations. The first step would be to research classes or courses that can help you learn how to make better presentations.
If it is getting fit, it may be best not to join a gym right away, but to see how you can incorporate activity into your schedule. Maybe you can walk to the grocery store when you only have a few things to buy, for example. Or maybe you can take the stairs to your office.
Step 5 – Start being nice to yourself!
If you do not speak nicely to yourself or treat yourself well, nobody else will either.
I always recommend carrying a picture of yourself as a child and asking yourself “Would I speak to her like that?”