Occasional negative self-talk is normal. And, sometimes being skeptical or critical helps you thoroughly investigate an issue. It is when your internal negative self-talk is a constant habit that it can do harm to yourself and those with whom you live and work. A negative internal dialogue happens when:
- You constantly think or say what won’t work, rather than what will work.
- You mainly focus on your fears, rather than positive emotions.
- You are preoccupied with problems, rather than what is working in your life.
- You think or say things that diminish your unlimited potential.
A critical inner dialogue sets you up to fail because it emphasizes what has gone wrong in the past, then uses that information to predict things going wrong in the future. Negative self-talk also keeps you stuck in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), recycling through the roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer. Here are a few examples of how negative self-talk sounds:
“I never know what do to.”
“I’m not good at this.”
“There’s never enough.”
“I’ll never be able to make a difference.”
“I know it won’t work.”
“No one listens to me.”
The more often these negative messages are repeated, the stronger they become wired in your brain. Because your brain is malleable and grows over 1,000 new neurons every day, it is essential that you pay careful attention to how you talk to yourself. The messages function like software that programs your new “baby neurons,” which are then stored and accepted as truth. In other words, your brain believes what you tell it.
You were not born to think negatively. It is a learned habit. So, the good news is you can change what you say to yourself. When you’re in the presence of a new baby, you see and feel their unlimited possibility. But a world that is full of negative news, harmful childhood messages, pessimistic friends, or poor role models—all these can contribute to a negative self-talk habit.
Shifting your negative self-talk takes awareness, time, and practice, just like replacing an old habit with new behavior. Once you choose the messages that are more positive and inspiring, based upon what you want for your life, you begin to align your mind and body for your highest desires. When you do this, your life begins to change for good.
Here are two steps that can dramatically shift your internal dialogue toward a positive mindset, if you fully embrace and practice them each day:
- Notice the extent of your self-talk. Approximately 90% of what humans say to themselves is unconscious and automatic. Over the next few days really notice how you talk to yourself. For example, what do you say to yourself first thing in the morning when you get up? What do you say to yourself when brushing your teeth? What do you say when your boss calls or emails you? You can’t change what you don’t realize.
- Edit and Reframe. When you notice a negative comment, stop and restate it in positive language, giving yourself clear and positive directives. Here are two examples: “I don’t know how to tackle this project.” Reframe it with, “I can get started with one step and figure out what’s after that.” Or, “Why does everything always go wrong?” Reframe and replace it with, “I will continue, step by step, to do the best I know how and learn and grow each step of the way.”
The key is to not replace the negative talk with pollyannish untruths. You are editing and reframing based upon how you choose to be and what you want to create. When you become more conscious of your negative self-talk, and you stop and “edit and reframe” it with what you most want for your life, you are nurturing your true essence as a Creator.