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Are you verbally abusing yourself?

Posted by Sara Levitsky on Saturday, November 17, 2012 Under: Coping Tools

Negative thinking and negative self talk are basically critical and judgmental inner dialogue.  We talk to ourselves in ways that we would NEVER talk to a friend.  And the more we do it, the more we start to believe it.  It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Some examples of negative self-talk: 

"I'll never get that job I interviewed for."
"I'm the worst cook."
"No one will ever want to be in a relationship with me."

Negative thinking is often defined by 10 Cognitive Traps:

1.  ALL OR NOTHING THINKING - if something doesn't go perfectly, it must be a failure.
2.  OVERGENERALIZATION - seeing things in terms of "always" or "never"
3.  MENTAL FILTER - focusing on one negative thing and ignoring anything positive surrounding it
4.  DISCOUNTING THE POSITIVE - not giving yourself credit for the good stuff - "anyone could have done that" or "it was just luck"
5.  JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS - interpreting things negatively when there is no evidence for that.  
a.  Mind-reading - assuming others are thinking the worst about you
b.  Negative fortune-telling - assuming things will turn out badly
6.  MAGNIFICATION - exaggerating your faults and minimizing your strengths
7.  EMOTIONAL REASONING - assuming that your negative feelings are a reflection of reality - "I feel bad, I must have done something bad.
8.  SHOULD STATEMENTS - telling yourself things should be the way you hoped they would be - and then punishing yourself if they aren't
9.  LABELING - instead of saying "I made a mistake" you say "I'm bad"
10. PERSONALIZATION/BLAME - holding yourself personally responsible for things that aren't in your control.

But the good news is that if we consciously challenge and change our voice, POSITIVE self talk can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy in the same way. By being less negative and more positive, we can actually influence our feelings for the better.

A really easy and effective way to turn around our thinking and our negative voice is a 3 step plan:

RECOGNIZE the negative statement - you will likely be feeling bad about yourself and can tune into what your inner voice is saying:
"I'm going to fail this test.  I'm a loser."

IDENTIFY the Cognitive Trap - there may be more that one, but only focus on one or two:
Overgeneralization, Negative fortune-telling, Labeling

RESPOND rationally - "I studied hard for this test, I'm not going to fail."  "I work hard at school, I'm a good student." "I might not get the grade I want, but I'm a good person."

Above all, when you're going through something hard, be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend.

photo credit-stuart

In : Coping Tools 

Tags: "negative self talk" "positive self talk" 
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