Too much negative self-talk can break down your self esteem, raise your stress levels, and reduce your happiness. Negative self-talk can be a roadblock to reaching your full potential and becoming your best self.
In this article, I will share what it is and how to identify some common forms of negative self talk. I will also cover what steps you can take to limit your negative self talk to a healthy level.
And for an added bonus, I included a negative self-talk worksheet! It will help you develop a positive mindset as you start taking steps towards becoming your best self.
What is negative self-talk?
A little negative self talk can be an excellent thing when it has logic and reason behind it. Its purpose is to help motivate ourselves to improve our lives.
On the flip side, negative self talk can get rude and ugly.
Your negative self talk can sound like:
“I’ll never be good enough.”
“I always mess it up.”
“I should just quit.”
If you say these types of statements long enough, it can become ingrained in your internal script. As moms, we can be especially hard on ourselves. Heck, we can even beat ourselves up for our children’s mistakes as if it was our own.
In the Ted Talk, “Getting stuck in the negatives”, Alison Ledgerwood explains how people tend to focus on the negative a lot longer than the positives. When we experience success, the positive emotions derived from it are short-lived. When we fail, we tend to stay wrapped up in negative emotions. We often stay negative for longer periods of time. Furthermore, our next success tends to not have as high of a positive effect on our emotions.
Changing your self talk will take some work. It will make implementing new simple habits while practicing self compassion. In time, you can be well on your way to achieving a positive mindset.
What are the four different forms of negative self-talk?
According to the Mayo Clinic, some common negative self-talk forms we use are: personalizing, filtering, catastrophizing, and polarizing.
Personalizing is when something goes wrong, and you immediately think you must be the problem.
You text a friend to ask them if they would like to go out on Saturday night. Your friend doesn’t respond as quickly as she normally does. You might think they are taking their time responding to come up with an excuse to not go because they don’t like me.
Filtering is when you focus on the negative aspects of a situation, ignoring all the positive ones.
You went grocery shopping to cook a special dish and after you get home, you realized that you forgot one of the main ingredients. You spend the rest of the day focused on that mistake.
Catastrophizing is when you expect the worst outcome in a situation.
You have a missed call from the school and you think your child is sick and will need to pick them up from school.
Polarizing is when you see everything as either good or bad, black or white. There is no middle ground in this type of thinking.
You pack for an outstanding day at the beach, but when you get there, you realize you forgot to pack the towels and think you are a total idiot.
How do I improve my self-talk?
1. Be Aware Of Your Negative Self-Talk
Realizing how often you are thinking negatively can be the first step to gaining control over your self-talk. When you know it is happening, you can then take the steps we need to address it.
2. Re-Frame Your Thoughts
Replace your thoughts with positive ones. When we look for reasons to label a situation as a negative one, our brains will support us with evidence. The same goes for when we intentionally seek to see the positive side in a situation.
I put together a list that has some great examples of how to reframe our thoughts. This list is also great to share with your kids when they are struggling with finding the right words or positive mindset. Here is a list of 10 powerful statements to help you develop a positive mindset:
I give up – I can try a different strategy
This is too difficult – This will take some time and effort
I’ll never finish – Each step I take, I move forward
I’m not good at this – With time I will get better
I’ll never be smart – I can learn to do anything I want
I can’t do this – I am going to learn how to do this
I made a mistake – I can learn from my mistakes
It’s not good enough – Am I putting in my best work?
They are better than me – What can I learn from them?
I’m a failure- What can I learn from this?
Download this free negative self talk worksheet: 10 Powerful Statements to Develop a Positive Mindset. Not only can it be helpful to you, but you can also print this negative self talk worksheet for your kids to refer to when they are struggling on finding the right phrases to stay positive.
3. Use Affirmations
We can repeat statements to ourselves that tear us down instead of building us up. Make a list of affirmations that support you.
Your list can include:
Physical Attributes you love about yourself
Reasons you are an amazing friend
Achievements you have made in the past
Reasons you are an amazing mom
Refer to that list often, if not daily. Soon you will have a healthier internal script that can be there to come to the rescue if you bully yourself.
4. Talk To Yourself As A Friend
Be kind to yourself as a friend would. Sometimes it doesn’t come naturally. Especially when others around us have an overly negative mindset. Yet, when we re-frame how we talk to ourselves with the voice of a friend, sometimes we know the right thing to say to ourselves. This is a superb way to show yourself self-compassion. For more tips on how to practice self-compassion, click here.
5. Challenge Your Negative Self-Talk
Sometimes we take negative self-talk as truth. Challenge your negative self-talk. It can be especially helpful to do this on paper if it is a reoccurring troubling thought. If it is something true about yourself and worth fixing, do it! You can put a plan into action on how you can take steps to improve that about yourself.
Tune in to your self-talk and identify when it is unhelpful to you. You can then use strategies like reframing your thoughts, using affirmations, talking to yourself as a friend, and challenging your negative self-talk to help you become a happier and healthier mom.
Practice it, model it, achieve it!