Mastering Your Negative Self-Talk to Achieve Success
Often, people work hard and achieve great success despite the fact that all along they are engaging in negative self-talk. They are unable to see their own skills, positive attributes, and successes they've had and instead focus on what they perceive to be wrong. Having high standards for yourself is good, but toxic thoughts can drag you down once you're on the right track.
Negative self-talk is toxic, negative or destructive thoughts that happen in your brain without your say-so. You could be giving a presentation, exercising, even relaxing with friends when your brain starts sending messages that you're not good enough. Maybe you suffer from bouts of low self-esteem, self-doubt, or obsession over past mistakes. Most often, negative self-talk keeps you from being happy even in your moments of greatest success.
Awareness is the First Step
The first and best way to handle toxic thoughts is to become aware of them. These thoughts can affect you most when you don't notice them. However, you can learn to "hear" these thoughts for what they are and intentionally resist them.
It can be hard to catch, at first, because these thoughts are sneaky. Pay attention to when you feel bad, then take a look at the thoughts you've just been having. Are they toxic? Do they line up with reality? Do they follow your personal patterns of bad thoughts and feeling bad? These are your toxic thoughts.
Listen for negative self-talk, not only about yourself, but others as well. Listen for discouraging thoughts and feelings and those that guide you toward negative behavior. These are your toxic thoughts. Identify them and start thinking of them as thoughts that need to be challenged.
View the Toxicity as External
Once you start to identify your toxic thoughts, begin to work against them. Instead of feeling bad when you have these thoughts, get mad. Become defiant. Think of the negative thoughts as something coming from outside you.
Think about your toxic thoughts like a bully at school shouting insults across the pavement. Learn what your toxic thoughts tend to "say" and disregard them as you would schoolyard taunts. If your toxic thoughts tend to say "you can't face the day, everything's too hard, just stay in bed" hear that as an external challenge and go out of your way to prove the toxic thoughts wrong.
If your toxic thoughts say that you can't succeed, they're just like a bully. You can face that bully in your own mind by recognizing it for what it is.
By viewing your toxic thoughts as external, you can separate them from your real and healthy mental self. This gives you room to start building up the healthy parts of yourself while working towards achieving your goals.
Write It Down and Talk It Out
Toxic thoughts have a way of building up inside you and resisting or repressing these thoughts can lead to accumulated stress. If you feel like you're bottling up your negativity and the pressure is rising, talk to someone. It can be a close friend, a family member, or even write in your journal.
It's easier to deal with negative thoughts if you work through them. Talking or writing about how you feel, what you're thinking, and how these things are truly separate from the person you actually are can be very impactful. Your goal is to verbally express and separate yourself from the negative thoughts.
Get Healthy Inside and Out
Often, toxic thoughts originate or are enhanced by a subtle feeling of discomfort. You may feel tense, anxious, or fatigued all the time and the feeling can impact your self-image and your internal thought process. Work on getting healthy with exercise, drinking plenty of water, and making smart meal choices. You can reduce feelings of negativity by boosting energy, wellness, and your overall internal balance. A better self-care routine can help you to feel empowered, comfortable, and more resistant to toxic thoughts about your overall well-being.
Distract Yourself from Focusing Inward
We also know that, sometimes, toxic thoughts keep coming back no matter how healthy you're living and how aware you are of the toxicity. If every time your mind is idle, you start to engage in negative self-talk, there's a solution, don't be idle.
Distracting yourself and keeping busy are classic tactics to help those recovering from a negative state of mind. Whether there are matters in your past that bring you down or you learned to approach situations from a negative perspective, an active lifestyle and hobbies in your free time can help direct your mental energy toward positive productivity instead of idle toxicity.
Focus on your work and run through your mental to-do list. Clean instead of just pacing. Exercise instead of dwelling. Pick up a productive hobby like gardening or puzzles.
Improve Your Self-Talk
Last but not least, learn to replace your toxic thoughts with positive words instead. It may feel a little cheesy at first, but practice talking to yourself positively inside your own mind. Become your own best friend, whether you need a voice to gently counter the negativity, to tell you you're great, or teach you to look at things from a different perspective, positive self-talk can have a big impact.
Imposter syndrome can be an example of negative self-talk. Adam Grant has a great way of addressing this and instead of telling yourself "I don't know what I'm doing. It's only a matter of time until everyone fines out," change your thoughts to a growth mindset. When you approach your thoughts with a growth mindset, you'll tell yourself "I don't know what I'm doing yet, It's only a matter of time until I figure it out."
Achieving Success with a New Thought Process
Many successful professionals and business leaders experience negative self-talk at some point in their careers and if you're dealing with this, you aren't alone. It's important to be able to relax and feel good about your achievements.
Remember to challenge your negative self-talk and replace it with kind words, questions, about the situation, and grace for all involved.
Aspyn Market is a marketplace for all things mental health and provides personal growth and mental wellness resources. Aspyn Coaching offers on-demand recorded coaching sessions and many other tools for personal growth. For more information about on-demand coaching sessions, visit Aspyn Coaching.
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