Have you ever had a fight with someone, where each person spewed out hurtful remarks, dug up examples from the past, and interrupted the other person to start their own tirade? And have these arguments ever taken place completely in your own head?
If so, you’re not alone. We all have whole conversations in our head that can either support or undermine our personal growth. Sometimes we’re talking to someone else, but most often we’re engaging in self-talk. You may not be aware of just how much time you spend worrying, criticizing or judging.
Maybe you call it planning. Thinking things through ahead of time can be a very good thing, but it can quickly cross the line. Consider whether you’re replaying the same thoughts over and over in a way that’s counterproductive and just creating more worry.
One of the ways to stop this runaway train of unproductive negative thinking is to talk about your thoughts to a therapist, a therapy group or other support group, or a trusted friend. This can give you a more objective perspective and help you determine what you can do something about versus what you can let go.
You may be tempted to banish your negative thoughts, or cover them up with positive affirmations. While we love affirmations, they’re much more effective if you first acknowledge your negative self-talk.
Simply observe that negative inner voice, and maybe say, “Thank you for sharing, that’s interesting.” Now examine these thoughts, and question if they’re really true. Is there another way to look at this situation? Or if this really is something negative, what are some of the positive benefits that could eventually result?
You may need to come back to the issue, on your own or with someone else. For now, turn your attention to an activity that helps you feel good about yourself. Here is where to pull out some affirmations and things you’re feeling grateful for. Remind yourself that the universe won’t give you anything you can’t handle.
Negative self-talk may be a frequent companion, but we can apply coping techniques just like in any other relationship.