Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Create a new habit of retraining your brain to drop negative self-talk.
We tell stories every single day.
When we go to shops, when we talk to our loved ones, we tell stories that we created, whether out loud or in our heads.
This narrative is never-ending. Sometimes it's something nice, like, 'I've achieved so much today.' But more often than not, it's self-depricating chat that we play in our heads without even realising it.
Have you ever experienced the following: you are in a good mood in the morning, everything is going well, and then your mood starts deteriorating without obvious reasons.
Then you catch your inner critic telling you off or critisising or mocking yourself for something you did or didn't do only a few hours ago.
Such a simple thing - a quick negative inner remark - might turn your self talk into a migrane inducing tirade.
I bet you do it more than you realise.
But do not fret. Just like every day brings an opportunity for negative self-talk, it also creates opportunities to change this narrative into something positive and productive.
How to change the tonality of the stories you tell yourself?
Notice your critical self-talk.
First, you need to identify your current stories and understand if they are bringing you joy and positivity or if they are bringing you down. A sample story might be:
I cannot do this
I am not good enough
I cannot start it as I am too old
I failed last time so no point in trying now
Someone will always do it better than me
Can you see how these stories feel negative even without going deeper into them? The instinctive energy that they exude is negative and unwelcoming. And now imagine living like this day in and day out?
This sort of toxic self-talk can lead to increased anxiety and even depression.
"One of the most obvious drawbacks of negative self-talk is that it's not positive. This sounds simplistic, but research has shown that positive self-talk is a great predictor of success." - verywellmind.com
Toxic self-talk and stories we tell ourselves are not healthy. So if you identified similar thought patterns, let's see how we can alter them to make your life more joyous rather than provide food for negative energy sucking gremlins.
Replace negative self-talk with positive or neutral affirmations.
Once you identified exact thoughts that often play out in your head, let's try to replace them with something else. What would you like to think instead? But please do not just swap them for positive but meaningless mantras and affirmations unless they mean something to you.
For example, we could try replacing ‘someone else does it better so there is no point in starting’ with ‘there will always be someone else doing it better, but I do it my unique way.’
You see how we swapped our negative story not into something sweet and positive, but something more realistic. Because if we just go ahead and turn our negative story into something sickeningly positive, we might make ourselves even more agitated.
Instead, we acknowledged a reality that there would always be someone better but identified our personal unique selling point or UPS - that we will do it in our special way.
Be more productive with the help from negative self-talk.
And now the magic part.
You can make your negative self-talk work for you and improve your productivity.
every time you inner critic says something nasty, like I can never finish this post on time, reserve engineer it's message and crate an action plan to prove it wrong by including potential pitfalls that your inner critic will try to use against your plan.
I can never finish this on time.
Reverse engeneered self-talk:
I will finish this post in time and this is how I am going to do it.
Write first edit - date, duration
Second edit - date, duration
Final edit - date, duration
Potential pitfalls to avoid:
Delaying start time
Not sticking to allocated time
Indulging my oergectionisn
Once you are aware of things that might go wrong it's easier not to make them happen. Because by vocalizing or writing them down you are making yourself mentally prepared for those pitfalls and put things in place to avoid them.
So next time you catch a story that plays out like a broken record telling you that you are not good enough or cannot do A or B, acknowledge it and change it so that it sounds realistic but with a positive flare.
You will not eradicate all negative stories in one go, but if you turn it into a daily habit - like brushing your teeth - in time you'll notice how much easier it is to swap negative stories for more positive and motivational.
What tricks do you use to change the negative stories you tell yourself?