What do your voices tell you? We all have a voice in our head – ours. As we go about our daily lives, this voice – our voice – is always saying something. This voice gives its opinion on our world, our experiences, and ourselves. Unfortunately, this voice is often a negative one.
Some of our self-talk is quite rational and reasonable. I had better get to work on time because I have a meeting. I need to get the dishes done before the kids get up from their nap. I need to save money instead of buying that new television. These are quite reasonable, rational thoughts. In those situations, our self-talk is worth listening to. At other times, our self-talk is very negative and often just plain untrue.
Negative self-talk is the norm for a lot, if not most, people. Our voice tells us all kinds of things that aren’t true. I’m going to fail regardless of how hard I work. I never do anything right. I will never be skinny enough. I will always be a terrible mother. I have failed at everything I do. There’s no sense in trying because it won’t work out for me. This kind of thinking is very active in both depression and anxiety.
How do we get rid of this negative self-talk? The truth is, we probably can’t get rid of all of it. However, we can get rid of a great deal. Below are several techniques for challenging and correcting negative self-talk. Give them a try.
1. Reality Testing
There are a few questions you can ask yourself.
- What is the evidence for and against what I am thinking?
- Are my thoughts factual or are they based on my emotional interpretation?
- Would someone else agree with what I am thinking?
2. Generate Alternatives
Being able to assume a different perspective is important for good mental health, in general. We all could use a little more flexibility in our thinking. Negative self-talk tends to be “either or.” There doesn’t tend to be room for middle-of-the-road perspectives. Finding alternatives brings things back to the middle. Here are some things to help you generate alternative ways of thinking.
- If I were being positive, what would I say to myself?
- What would a close friend say to me to help me feel better?
- Are there other ways to interpret this situation?
Think about the statement, “I will always be fat.” Answer each of those questions in regard to that statement.
3. Find Truth
Generating alternatives helps us find truth. Once you have a few alternative statements that challenge your negative self-talk, examine them for truth. Try answering these questions.
- Is this really an either or situation? (the answer is rarely yes)
- What would I say to someone else just like me?
- What do most of the people I respect believe about me or this situation?
- What can I do to solve the problem?
Take a look at your alternatives and find truth. Your negative self-talk will almost always lead you astray from truth.
Remember, no one is all good or all bad. There aren’t many nevers or always. Be as kind to yourself as you would the person you love the most.
What ways have you challenged negative self-talk and been able to change your perspective? Feel free to comment. We would love to hear from you!