Negative Self Talk

So what is negative self talk?  How does it get in our way?  And how can we get rid of it!?

Negative self talk is that negative mind chatter that goes on (what some people call the monkey mind), you know ‘I’m no good at this’, ‘I can’t do that’, 'what will people think?', ‘I’ll never be as good as her’ blah blah blah.  That is what holds us back from doing the things we really want to do.

Now if our self talk is predominantly positive, how much more focused and motivated do you think we will be to go follow our dreams? 

Remembering that the average mind wanders 46.9% of the time, how can we know how much of our self talk is positive or negative?  We can find that out by taking Barbara Fredrickson's positivity ratio questionnaire

So this positive or negative self talk (or rather the emotion that is attached to it), is motivating our every day decision-making, and this affects the way we react and behave towards people, and more importantly the way we behave towards ourselves.

Here's an example:-

You wake up one morning and before you even open your eyes, you put your feet on the floor and accidentally knock over the glass of orange juice you left there last night (oh *bleep*!  I shouldn't leave things lying around on the floor!). 

So, you get up to go clean it up and trip over your son's tonka truck, fall over and hit your head on the bedroom door (ouch!  I must be more careful – my clients today will think I got drunk last night!).

You then get downstairs to find your son has spread all his coco pops over the carpet, and the dog so desperate to go out has crunched all the coco pops in, AND!! the only way you can get to the kettle for that mmmmmmmuch needed cup of coffee is to step into it  (AAAAgggghhhhh! That's it.  That dog's a nuisance.  I'm getting him a kennel!  That'll teach him).

So you forego your coffee and as you leave the house, now 20 minutes late of course, the door lock gets stuck and takes a million turns to lock it, then when you get in the car it won't start straight away. 

Then you hit a massive traffic jam moving at 0 miles an hour.  You are now an hour late, and you haven't even got to work yet.  The traffic jam gives you lots of time to reflect (I'm so stupid, I should have got that lock fixed.  I can't do anything right!  Can't even buy a car that works!).

What kind of a mood do you think you are going to be in by this time, negative or positive?  And this mood, as we've seen, is going to affect our decision-making for most of the day.

Now imagine this:-

You wake up that same morning and hear the birds singing, that makes you feel good so you open your eyes and you see the sun shining through the window and miss the glass of orange juice on the floor, and now you aren't thinking about cleaning it up.

So you notice your son's tonka truck and pick it up (I'm so lucky to have such a gorgeous son, he loves his tonka truck, hmmm what shall we plan for his 5th birthday party?)

You then get downstairs to find that yes your son has spread all his coco pops all over the carpet, but thankfully, as you haven't been delayed the dog is still sound asleep so he hasn't crunched them all in.  You happily walk over to the kettle for that mmmmmmmuch needed cup of coffee, knowing you have plenty of time to clean your son's mess up (oh he can't help it, isn't he clever getting his own breakfast?)

As you leave the house, now on time, you are not in a hurry so the door locks first time, and even though the car doesn't start straight away you get away much quicker, miss the massive traffic jam, and whilst driving, think 'what a lovely day, the sun's shining, and I'm on time, hmmmmm what a great day!', and you saunter into work with a great big smile on your face. 

Now what kind of a mood do you think you are going to be in for the rest of that day?

So how can we stop this negative self talk?

 Here are the steps I suggest:-

  • Pay attention to your thoughts - start determining the difference between your positive and negative self talk (see positive thinking techniques). 
  • Build up your positive self talk.  Empower yourself before tackling your negative self talk head on (see positive thinking techniques).