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How to Overcome Negative Self-Talk that Holds You Back


You’re caught up in a cycle. You know the one—the one where you talk down to yourself. Every word in your mind points out your flaws and mistakes to the point that you think you’re going to go crazy from listening to it if you haven’t already.

Negative self-talk can be just this insidious. It gets in your head, courtesy of previous experiences and negative input from people who don’t always mean well. Once there, it plays the same song on repeat, growing somehow worse with every retelling until you quit trying. Your dreams stall out, and you find yourself doing very little at all.

Finally, you need to take your life back and end the negative self-talk once and for all.

Is it easier said than done? That is what we tell ourselves anyway. But honestly, it’s not necessarily true. These are things you can do to eliminate sabotaging thoughts and start thinking positive:

Find the Calm
First of all, you can’t combat anything when you’re overly emotional and overwhelmed mentally. When making decisions under these situations, the only thing you will do is create failure. So, find a quiet place and sit down to take a few deep breaths. If you can, meditate or try a mindfulness exercise until you can reach a peaceful place internally. When you are calm, you can adequately strategize and set yourself up to get closer to checkmate.

Take Note of What You’re Thinking
Don’t avoid negative thoughts. Listen to it. What is it saying? Whose voice does it sound like? In these situations, I usually journal. I have a nice glass of wine, write, and I cry. Only then can you clear your mind and see what is happening when those genuine emotions come out.

Dig into the Roots
Now ask yourself what the thought represents. Where did this come from? Is this from an expectation you put on yourself at some point, or does it come from someone else entirely?

Drop the Unreasonable Expectation
Are you trying too hard to be perfect in some regard? Is there a more reasonable expectation you can put on yourself in the place of this thought? No one is perfect. We all have weaknesses and limitations. You can’t fix some of your weaknesses, but at least you won’t be blindsided, and you can find a way through to stay on top.

Turn It Around
What is the positive counterpoint to this thought? For example, if you’re worried about how bad you are with money, remind yourself of when you saved up for something you wanted, or think about when you paid off a debt and how good it felt afterward.
I read something once that stayed with me by Harriet Stowe. She stated, “When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Create a Habit
If this thought comes around often, what is the new view you want to replace it with? How can you make this thought a habit? Consider this: the more you react in a new way to an old stimulus, the quicker a new pattern is formed, and the old reaction disappears.

Just Stop
In the end, the only way to get rid of a negative thought is to put a halt to it consciously. Once you’ve gone through these steps, tell yourself to stop when the idea comes up again, and keep telling it to stop until it completely disappears. There is too much negativity in the world to contribute to it, so try and be positive. The key to staying positive and achieving happiness and calmness – lies not in always thinking happy thoughts because sometimes that is difficult—the key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, the good and the bad ones. Just remember, it would help if you accepted your thoughts but not become them.

Understand, for instance, that having an unhappy thought, even having a continual series of unhappy thoughts, is not the same as being an unhappy person.

Please note: You don’t have to listen to negativity, but sometimes it becomes so entrenched that you might have trouble dislodging it yourself. When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talking to a trusted friend or counselor can help you lay this negative chatter to rest once and for all.

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