Ever ended up calling yourself ‘careless’ or told yourself ‘you can’t do this’? We all have days when we end up being too hard on ourselves. Those days, however, pass, making us realize we’re not ‘careless’ and we can do anything if we put our mind to it.
But, what if this negative self-talk lasts for a very long time? Well, it could be a sign that your mental health needs attention.
We spoke to Dr Rahul Khemani, a psychiatrist from Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, who told us that we all have an inner voice that guides our behaviour. It is this voice that keeps us from breaking a traffic signal and even motivates us to abstain from eating that extra slice of cake for the sake of our health. It acts as a moral compass.
This inner voice can, however, become extremely negative. Over time, it can bring us down and hit our confidence.
The negativity only amplifies when we internalize negative messages we receive from others about who we are, how we should act and what we should feel. These are usually learned in childhood, but it can develop over time as well.
These messages are subtle and become a part of our thought process. For example, a child who is told that getting good grades is the only way to receive parental love will start believing that pursuing hobbies is a worthless pursuit.
“Not addressing relationship problems is another prominent reason that leads to negative self-talk. Pushing your issues under the rug won’t make them go away. Instead, it will lead to stress and frustration. This, in turn, makes us question ourselves and becomes a breeding ground for negative self-talk. Poor health habits can also lead to negative thinking, and affect how we speak to ourselves. When we deny ourselves the care we need, we basically send out a message to our mental well-being that we deserve negativity,” Dr Khemani explained.
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1. Negative self-talk can take away our ability to see opportunities. Being in the “I’m not good enough” zone is going to keep us from taking up new projects, new roles, and new relationships while ruining our existing relationships.
2. It limits our thinking. If you tell yourself you are not good at something, you are going to start believing it over time.
3. Perfectionism is a by-product of excessive negative self-talk. Perfectionists tend to believe that “great” is not as good as “perfect”. This creates a fallacy that perfectionism is actually attainable. Hence, it creates a feeling of perpetual dissatisfaction.
4. Negative self-talk can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation.
5. Constant self-criticism can make a person needy and insecure. A lack of communication and even constructive feedback becomes unbearable. The person takes on more blame for problems in the relationship than he or she should and it ends up creating an imbalance where one partner becomes more vulnerable or manipulative.
Talk kindly to yourself and see your mental health improve!