Do you ever wonder why you think the things you think and say the things you say? I did and still do. As a teenager and as a young adult, I remember thinking and saying negative things to myself – something like I’m too fat? Why can’t I do anything right? You’re not good enough or smart enough.
It was all crap and made me feel bad and miserable about myself.
Today, if a negative thought or question comes to my mind, I zap it immediately. I don’t give it the space to pull me down. If I had, I’d be playing too small in life. I wouldn’t have gone to college at the age of 43. I wouldn’t have stood in front of a group of fitness students when all I wanted to do was puke and run out the door. I wouldn’t have become a Pilates instructor or managed a college fitness center. You get the point! If I had bought into all of the negative self-talk I’ve given myself over my lifetime. I’d have done none of those things!
The language of negative self-talk, where does it come from anyway?
Let’s start here –
Our brain provides us with five languages. They are the languages of our lives – sight, sound, taste, smell, and feelings. The brain is continuously engaging in conversation and sending pictures to create the reality of YOUR world and ONLY yours. As we sift and filter through the language, our minds are shaping our world. My world is different from your world.
Negative self-talk also comes from our beliefs, which influence our thinking, feelings, and, eventually, our behaviors.
Here’s an example of how our feelings are created – We start some internal dialogue, and at this point, you are the only one thinking or talking to yourself. Then an external stimulus presents itself. Perhaps it’s the neighbor’s tv being played too loud in the apartment next to you, or the kids wake up grumpy. It could be anything, right.
The sensory input triggers the brain. You put meaning to whatever it is, and immediately emotions are triggered, and then a feeling is created. It happens so fast, and no matter what the inner dialogue is, it’s always taking place.
There is also this thing called Negativity Bias.
Our brain tends to focus on the negativity of a situation, dwell on it, and experience the pain versus reveling in the joy, adoration, or praise given.
Here are an example – Teaching fitness classes, I was subject to the students’ thoughts and feelings about my teaching. Twenty or more students could love what I taught, and one student wouldn’t. The sting of the negative experience had more effect on me than the positives.
“The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones.” ~ Rick Hanson
In a nutshell, we are the authors of our feelings. Our brains, minds, and body are complex. They are all talking to each other, and when one is out of sync, the other two will follow.
So, what does all this negativity do to our Health? It…
* Increases anxiety
* Weakens our immune system
* Reduces ambition
Chronic stress cancels out healthy living benefits, so tell the negative self-talk to take a hike.
Try this on – You aren’t the boss of me. I don’t have to listen to you. Who do you think you are coming into my brain and disrupting my flow? Get lost!
How do I change the negative self-talk to a positive one?
The first step is understanding; we go from stimuli to – interpretation/meaning to – feelings/emotions too – reactive behavior.
Secondly, slow down your thoughts, go back to the thought, examine it, name it, and then tap the temple and say to yourself, Clean, Clear, Delete. Then reframe it and change the thought.
For example, I’m miserable becomes; I’m working on being happy.
Here are some more ways to put a positive spin on thoughts
Distract Yourself – intentionally do something different. Allow your mind to focus on something positive and productive and move away from negative thoughts or pain.
Affirmations are also known to be a powerhouse in helping to replace negative thoughts. Know that what you say to yourself matters significantly.
Savor the Positive – We don’t always have negativity, so hang on to the decisive moments a little longer and let them simmer and bring joy.
Here’s an Exercise in Change. Give It a Go!
What Do You Like About Yourself?
Have a seat. Sit back, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Now take a couple more. Keep your eyes closed and ask yourself, what do I like about myself? Pick something that you know to be true for you.
What was it? Could you write it down? Then take a moment to reflect on what it is you like about you. Look at the behavior and qualities that come with the statement of what you like.
They are clues to you. They are details. They are important. Try them on in different aspects of your life. Embrace that part of you. Find more opportunities to be that person.
Taking a deeper dive
If you want to dive deeper into making positive changes and personal growth, start with examining your inner belief system. It will tell you a lot.
A couple of good questions to ask yourself: where did that negative voice come from? Whose voice is it that I hear when I talk negatively to myself? If you would like some help in taking a deeper dive, I’m here to assist.
If you take nothing away from this post, remember this, when we engage in negative self-talk, we are limiting ourselves and sometimes those around us. We are not living up to our full potential.
Cheer yourself onward and upward. It takes attention, self-discipline, and practice to stop the negativity, but it can be done.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post.