Friday, 10 October 2014

Negative Self Talk

Following on from my last blog post where I detailed the first of seven common things that hamper people in making significant change (see (7 Errors of Change: No.1 Allowing Yourself to be Paralysed by Doubts), here is my description of the second error of change - Negative Self Talk - and what you can do about it:

Error No. 2: Negative Self Talk

"Negative Self Talk" is when you have a negative phrase or sentence or self-critical comment which commonly goes through your head in certain situations or frequently. The kind of negative self-talk that might inhibit or hamper you from making effective changes might be something like: 'I am useless' or 'I'll never manage it' or 'I'll upset someone if I do that.'

If negative self talk is preventing you from taking constructive steps towards positive change then try any or all of the following:
  • Identify when your negative self-talk involves or implies a moralistic element (such as should or must) and substitute a less dramatic, more practical way of thinking about yourself and your actions. For example instead of saying 'I'll upset someone if I do that' which implies a moralistic element ('I shouldn't upset someone) you might say to yourself: 'If someone is upset by it then that's a shame but I have a right to pursue my own goals in a reasonable way.'

  • Challenge your own self-critical negative talk by asking yourself what a trustworthy friend would say about the judgement you have made about yourself or what you would say to a friend if they made that judgement about themself in a similar situation. Then be your own friend and say that to yourself.

  • Recognise when you are adopting an 'all or nothing' view or using words such as 'never' or 'always'. Ask yourself: ‘Is it really true that I do this all the time or never or can I think of some occasions when actually I have done what I would like to do more often?’ Moderate the extreme all or nothing self-talk (more on this in my next post).
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