“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind”.
– Joyce Meyer
“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought”.
– Peace Pilgrim
Everyone has an inner voice or dialogue that speaks to us, it can be positive or negative, it can motivate us or it can stop us in our tracks. Negative self talk is the bad voice, the one that tells us we aren’t good enough, that questions everything about ourselves and other people. That sees the worst in situations, that blows things out of proportion.
It’s the voice that can hold us back from our dreams and successes in life. Stops us from reaching our full potential and living a happy and fulfilling life. It can have more of an effect than you think!
Types of Negative Self Talk
Jack Canfield has a great interpretation on the types of negative self talk we all have so I would like to list his 5 different negative inner voices and explain them a little in my own words. You can learn more about Jack here.
I will also include his video for you to check out.
- Always/ Never Thinking: this is the voice that says things like “I will always fail” or “I will never be good at this”.
- Focusing On Negative: this is the self talk that finds the negative in every situation.
- Catastrophic Predicting: this is the inner dialogue that makes everything the worst case scenario even when there is no indication or truth to the scenario. An example would be someone who is very. successful and good at their job inner voice says “I am going to get fired” despite there being no evidence that this will happen.
- Mind Reading: this is the inner voice that pretends to be psychic, the one that tells you what a person is thinking or how they are feeling or how they will react. You play out a scenario or conversation before it even happens and convince yourself that the outcome will be negative.
- Guilt Tripping: this is where your inner voice tells you that you are not worthy of anything good in life because of something you did in the past, or because you aren’t doing something now. The one who makes you feel guilty regardless of how much good you do.
Impact of Negative Self Talk
Before we talk about the benefits of overcoming negative self talk or how to do that, I want to talk about the negative impact self talk can have on a person. Most of us know we can think negatively but a lot of the time we don’t understand the true impact that can have on us and our lives. Here are some examples:
- Physical pain – negative self talk not only causes us pain in the mental state but also the physical. We know that stress and anxiety and negative thinking can cause our physical body to become tense. It can cause all sorts of muscular aches and pains.
- Immune System – your immune system has been known to be effected by what goes on in the mind. Negative self talk can lead to stress and anxiety which can increase bad hormones and cause us to become exhausted and run down. Our immune systems then don’t function as well as they should and we are more susceptible to common illnesses like colds and flus.
- Energy Levels/Mood – negative self talk can really send us into a low, it can be so bad that it actually depletes our energy and effects our mood, it can even cause depression. It causes our metabolism to slow down and this impacts on our energy levels, our appetite and overall mood.
- Gut – we all get that churning feeling in our stomachs when we are feeling negative, that bad inner voice is actually playing more of a part than you think. It can actually cause gut problems such as pain, heartburn, increased noise and issues with bathroom habits (you know what I mean).
- Focus – Just like self talk effects our mood and energy levels, it can also effect our focus, this can lead to less productivity at work or at home and can cause us to stall in life and not reach our goals.
- Sleep – We all know that physical and mental health affect our sleep, all the things I have already mentioned can all affect our sleep quality or our ability to fall asleep. Negative self talk can cause us to sleep less, or have less quality sleep and that in turn makes an impact on our overall physical and mental well being.
You can read more about sleep here.
These are just some of the things that can happen when you allow that inner critic to speak too often. If you recognise any of these symptoms and you have noticed your inner voice is a little too negative then I would urge you to read on!
Benefits of Overcoming Negative Self Talk
You have some knowledge now about why negative self talk is bad for you… now I want to talk about the good things that will happen if you learn to overcome negative self talk and teach that inner voice to be positive.
- Strengthens coping skills
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Reduces incidence of depression
- Better immune function
- Reduction in pain levels
- Better mood, more motivation and vitality
- Increased energy levels
- Creates more happiness in your life
- Increases life expectancy
Again, these are just some of the positives about overcoming negative self talk. I am sure that every individual would find their own positive impacts.
Ways to Challenge Negative Self Talk
There are a lot of ways you can begin to challenge your own negative self talk, I want to share with you a few ways I have come across and have used myself.
Firstly I want to teach you a method that I found while watching a YouTube video by Jim Kwik, you can learn more about Jim here. I will also include the video for you to watch.
Jim Kwik uses a memory aid he calls ABRA which comes from the word Abracadabra. He explains in the video that abracadabra means “I create as I speak” or “it came to pass as it was spoken”. He uses the first four letters of this word as memory aid and an easy way to challenge and overcome negative self talk.
A= Acknowledge: don’t resist them, what we resist, persists
B= Breathe: take a breath, use controlled breathing. Breathe in what you want and then follow the next step…
R= Release: release what you DO NOT want, exhale and let go of what you don’t want.
A= Align: create a new phrase or belief that aligns with your beliefs. Change “I can never remember anything” to “I do have a great memory”.
This method is fantastic and the video is less than 4 minutes long. Give it a go!
Some other ways to reduce the self talk are:
- Take note of your self talk: be mindful of what your inner voice is saying, is it negative or positive? Are there certain times or situations that trigger your negative self talk. This is all important in identifying and addressing your negative in dialogue.
- Challenge your self talk: every time you catch yourself have a negative thought that is not helpful, that is actually harmful, you need to challenge the thought. Ask yourself if its true? Is it necessary? Will it improve my situation? Challenging your self talk can help you to acknowledge and work at improving your inner voice.
- Role play in your mind: pretend a friend has come to you with the exact same scenario or thought that you are having now and think about how you would respond. We are all harder on ourselves than we are on those we love and care about. After imagining what encouraging or positive things you might have said to them you can use that on yourself and replace your negative thinking.
- Replace your inner critic: every time you start being hard on yourself or thinking negatively, replace that negative thought with a positive one. This takes practice but you can learn to find a positive to every negative.
- Hit the brakes: Jack Canfield says if you catch your inner dialogue being negative then say to yourself or out loud “cancel-cancel” to help stop that train of negative thinking. Others say to visualise hitting the brakes or picturing a stop sign. I have also heard of people wearing an elastic band and snapping it every time they start thinking negatively.
Teach Your Inner Voice to Be Kind…
There are so many tools, tricks and resources to learn about how to be kinder to yourself… to love yourself more. We all have these feelings. We all have struggles in life, we ask ourselves the same questions, and as I once heard “we are more similar than we are different”.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results”.
– Willie Nelson
Please feel free to comment below, I would love to hear if you have used these techniques in the past, if you are going to give them a go or if you have tried and seen some great results.