As kids, we were taught we had a “potty mouth” if we said a bad word. Isn’t it interesting though how as adults, we’re allowed to say whatever we want, especially to ourselves? When we are rude or inconsiderate to others this comes with consequences, but what about when we talk badly to ourselves?
Negative self talk is linked to many mental health problems including depression and chronic stress. It can affect our productivity, relationships and internal well-being.
According to the National Science Foundation the average person has about 12,000 to 60,00 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative. 80%!! How would it feel for a day if you walked through life and had someone spouting negative things at you all day long? Sounds exhausting, and my mood and ego would be in the gutter.
So how can we start to correct this? This blog will cover 3 steps to move away from negative self talk.
Step 1: Be Aware
Awareness is the key to changing bad behavior. If we aren’t recognizing we are doing something, then how can we change it? Chances are, you don’t even realize all the negative things you tell yourself throughout the day. So the first step in this is to recognize when you say something (out loud or internally) that has a negative connotation.
Step 2: Acknowledge the thought, but then tell yourself it’s not reality
Our thoughts become our realities, however, if we change our thoughts, that becomes our new reality. So for example, if you tell yourself “I’m not good at numbers” change that to say something related to numbers you are good at- i.e.- “I’m great at negotiating an offer letter.” An offer letter requires numbers doesn’t it? So the reality is, you’re not bad at all things numbers, you are focusing on one thing you don’t feel good at. If you are able to sway your mind to focus on the areas you are good at, that will help you feel empowered instead of helpless.
An alternate way would be to focus on the opposite of this and highlight the good instead of the bad. For example, as a kid I used to always say “I’m bad at Math”. Knowing what I know now, I would alter that to say “I’m really good at writing. Essays are my jam.” See how the tone in that is totally different when you highlight the good instead of the bad?
Step 3: Act like a Friend
Whatever just came out of your mouth, ask yourself “would I say that to a friend?” If the answer is “of course not!” then ask why you would tell yourself that? We may think we are resilient, and we are as humans in many ways, but most of us don’t realize how much our words affect how we feel on a daily basis. This “inner critic” has the ability to take over and tell us who we are without us in the driver seat. So the next time something comes out of your mouth or is about to, reframe if it’s something you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to your friend.
If it is something negative you would say to a friend, soften the blow. For example, turn “I don’t think you made the right decision in this scenario” into “I don’t think you made the right decision in this scenario, but you are a caring person who has learned what to do moving forward”. See the difference?
We aren’t going to all be good at everything, and that’s ok, but watch your mouth and clean up your words for more confidence and happier work days feeling good about yourself.
By: Georgia Homsany, Owner of Daily Dose Wellness