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While being self-critical is imperative for course correction in our lives, there are times when we can be overly negative when it comes to ourselves.
Negative self-talk is one such manifestation of over critical thoughts, where, for example; instead of telling ourselves that we should learn from our mistakes that we made in a particular exam or work presentation, and resolve not to repeat them, we end up telling ourselves that we are not good at what we do, and can never get anything right. The inner dialogue that we have with ourselves could limit us to believe in our abilities, induce stress and instil in us a sense of anger, guilt, shame or even regret.
Dealing with negative self-talk by simply thinking positively and constructively is easier said than done, but can be managed because we are ultimately responsible for our thoughts.
So, to help you deal with negative self-talk, we have jotted down three ways that will prove beneficial in overcoming the negativity triggered by such thoughts and words-
At the very outset, it is important to identify and differentiate between negative and positive self-talk to not perceive situations in isolation, and make the requisite changes in our outlook to avoid drowning in negative thoughts.
As per a publication by the Mayo Clinic, a few common forms of self-talk include filtering, which is magnifying negative aspects of a situation and filtering out the positive ones. Personalizing is another form, where we blame ourselves when something bad occurs without rationally understanding the situation and multiple factors that affect its outcome.
There’s also catastrophizing as a form that automatically compels us to anticipate the worst that can happen to us in a given situation. Moreover, polarizing is also a form of negative self-talk, where we do not acknowledge the middle ground in a situation, and see only either the good or the bad.
Once you have identified patterns of negative self-talk, it is important to talk back with positive affirmations. Because it will help you take away the power from negative thoughts over your consciousness and actions.
A few ways of taking the power back is by identifying the areas of change, in work or personal relationships, or responding with affirmations that are gentle, kind and constructive for you.
For example, you can counter a negative thought such as “I will never get this done”, with something as simple as “Let me re-group and think about a solution from another perspective” or even something like “I will consult my friend and see how he thinks about this situation”.
Setting a basic routine or layout for your day is critical in tackling negative self- talk, as you will approach at least some aspects of your day without a set of preconceived notions.
Having a routine helps in living in the moment and getting done with tasks in a systematic manner, be it going for a brisk 20-minute walk after dinner or watering the plants right before breakfast. Routine, as per Northwestern Medicine, in fact, helps in managing stress, sleeping and eating properly, and contributes to a healthier self.
Remember, at the end of the day, you have to be kind to yourself.