Stop Negative Self-Talk
I can be downright abusive…to myself. One of my (many) challenges is to stop negative self-talk from constantly playing in the background. Unfortunately, negative self-talk is something that I struggle with every day. And I know that I am not alone.
Often, I find myself saying critical and unkind things that I would never say to anyone else. And yet, I tell them to myself. Unfortunately, I used to be unaware of this habit, and those thoughts were unchecked and ran rampant.
But where does this negative self-talk originate? And why do I keep doing it?
What is negative self-talk? “Negative self-talk is the expression of thoughts or feelings which are counter-productive and have the effect of demotivating oneself. When depressed, negative self-talk will further demotivate and depress the individual.”
Origin of Negative Self Talk
There are many different theories, but one explanation resonates truthfully with me. That negative self-talk originated in my early childhood experiences. According to this theory, I developed destructive self-talk patterns to cope with situations or conditions in my past that were emotionally or physically painful.
I developed a mindset of constantly questioning my worth and abilities, always expecting the worst from myself. Oh, I come by my negative self-talk, quite honestly. My negative self-talk came from my abusers.
From my parents, I endured constant verbal and emotional abuse. I internalized all of the horrible things they said about me. I was a kid and believed my parents knew everything, including what a horribly worthless human I was.
Stop Negative Self-Talk
Knowing where negative self-talk originated is important while working towards stopping those thoughts. Because then you can, with your therapist, develop strategies to stop negative self-talk. Unfortunately, it had become a habit by the time I got to where I was and still am. So one critical step is becoming more aware of your thought patterns.
I had no idea how often I was engaging in negative self-talk until I started paying attention. Then I realized it was all of the time. So even as I write this, that little voice is telling me that I am full of shit, what do I know about negative self-talk, and that no one cares what I have to say about this or any other topic.
Even though I still have negative self-talk, I am aware of it. And I can implement my defense mantras that my therapist and I worked on to stop the negative self-talk. So, for example, to address the negative self-talk that I don’t know what I am talking about, I made a mantra for that. It is, “My experiences are valid and valuable.”
Name Your Negative Self-Talk Voice
Another strategy that works well for me is to name your negative self-talk voice. You can laugh, I know I did a bit when my therapist suggested this, but it works. I am imaginative and introverted, so this worked for me. I have two characters that I created for my negative self-talk.
One is Snarky the Snark Dog. Snarky is for the anxiety stuff. My hubs pointed out to me that I get snarky when I am feeling anxious about something. Thus, Snarky the Snark Dog was born. When I find myself in a snark moment, I talk to Snarky.
The other is Myggy my Amygdala. Myggy is when the anxiety is overwhelming, and I am starting to shut down. Since our amygdalas are responsible for our flight, fight, freeze, or fawn responses, Myggy became one of the characters. Now that I recognize negative self-talk as part of those survival modes, I can talk with Myggy.
Go With What Works
Those are two of the strategies that worked for me. Finding what works for you is key to healing, but if you don’t try different things, you may not find what works. For example, having characters with whom I have “conversations” works for me.
In part because Imagining how that conversation will go distracts my brain long enough to stop the spiral. Even those few moments of distraction are enough for me to identify what is happening so that I can change my narrative. And sometimes, I can stop an anxiety spiral or an anger outburst.
Also, this helps to keep my amygdala from hijacking my higher cognitive functioning. Yes, that is absolutely a thing that can happen. Remember, the amygdala is the oldest part of our brain, and one of its sole functions is to help us to survive. And our amygdalas will do whatever it takes to keep us alive.
Talk with a Therapist
It is challenging to deal with negative self-talk, especially when your mind seems to be consumed by them. The dangerous side of negative self-talk is that on awful days, it tells me that the world would be better without me. That is a deep depression side of negative self-talk. And the dangerous place that negative self-talk can take you.
It’s why it’s so important to become aware of your negative self-talk and find a therapist to help you break that cycle. They will be able to offer tips and advice for working through your negative thoughts. I tried several strategies before I found the ones that worked for me. But I wouldn’t have had the options without therapy.
If you aren’t sure where to start finding a therapist I recommend Online-Therapy.*
After all, it is much easier to manage our emotions when we have some support along the way. So, though negative self-talk is still challenging for me, I am in a much better position than I have ever been before to stop negative self-talk. And that is a step closer to being the best me I can be.
*I receive compensation from Online-Therapy when you use my referral link. I only recommend products and services when I believe in them.