Negative Self-Talk & The Toxic Effect it Has on You

4 min read
Most people experience negative self-talk from time to time and we all have an inner critic. This inner voice can be helpful in making important decisions and in motivating you to make healthy choices. However, it can also become harmful to your health and cause significant damage to your mental well-being. Majority of self-talk is skewed towards negativity. This is preventing you from being your true authentic self, so it is important to change that record in your head to one with greater positivity.
Negative self-talk is any inner dialogue that limits your ability to believe in yourself. It is thoughts that diminish your ability to make positive changes in your life. These negative thoughts create more stress in your life and stand in the way of your overall success.

Negative self-talk or your thoughts that create emotional states of fear, anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, or regret can impact you in the following ways:
  • Decreased motivation
  • Lowered ability to see opportunities
  • Increased levels of stress
  • Relationship challenges
  • Feelings of depression
  • Lowered life satisfaction
Your thoughts will eventually become your beliefs, which will eventually become your reality.

Change your thoughts and change your life.

Become more aware of your self-talk and take steps to more positive thinking. When you experience positive thoughts, your body produces more brain endorphins, which helps you relax and stay more alert and centered. Positive thinking increases your experience of pleasure while reducing physical pain. As a result, you are far more likely to be confident, optimistic, and motivated to do what it takes to achieve your goals.

The first step is to take notice and become aware of any negative self-talk you are accustomed to.

You can do this in many ways. Simply stop and reflect on the dialogue you are having with yourself. How often are you using words like ‘I never’ or ‘I can’t’? If you find yourself frequently using terms such as always, never, every time, everyone, no one, and so on, it is time for a wake-up call.

Examples of this type of self-talk sound like this: “My family never helps me, and no one respects me” or “I will never be able to stick to a healthy diet, I always give into any temptation.”  These are irrational thoughts. Is it actually true that no one respects you or that you never avoid tempting foods? Take a pause to recognize these messages you are so quick to say to yourself and make the adjustment right away.

A more realistic dialogue may be, “I know my family loves me, but I feel disrespected at the time because I am not getting the support I asked for.” This statement puts you in a much calmer resolution state and you will be able to clearly communicate to your loved ones how you actually feel and what you need to resolve it.

If you stop and think rationally, your reality may actually sound like this: “I gave into temptation at the gathering, but I did great all last week. I know that I can improve and do better next time.”

You can also try tracking your daily dialogue by writing it down or saying it out loud back to yourself. This may seem extreme but seeing or hearing the words you are frequently using will make it more real.

Take back control and challenge your thinking. 

Call out your inner critic or challenge your self-talk. This allows you to take away the control or power it has over you. When you notice these thoughts slipping in, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Is this absolutely true? What is the evidence for my thinking?
  2. Is this situation as bad as I am making it out to be?
  3. Are there other ways I could look at this situation?
  4. Would I say this thought to a best friend or loved one? Would I allow or be okay with someone else saying it to me?
Challenge your thoughts and replace them with more reasonable ones. One of the damaging aspects of negative self-talk is that it often goes unchallenged. When our inner critic is at its worst, it can sound like our worst enemy. Try shifting your perspective or thinking like a good friend. Try looking at the situation from a distance or as if it was happening to someone you care about. What words or advice would you say or use in that situation?

If you have been living under the weight of negative self-talk without realizing it, you may not recognize how much damage it has been causing you. This habit of negative self-talk uses so much of your precious energy. It can rob your joy in life and your chance at greater success.

It is time to let go of that inner critic and show yourself more compassion and kindness.

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