No matter who we are, it’s normal for us to be self-critical from time to time and find ourselves in a deep spiral of negative self-talk. After all, we are only human and often times our own worst critics.
Studies have shown that negative self-talk harms mental and physical health, affects our decision-making and is associated with lower self-esteem and depression. Fortunately, there are many ways to turn negative self-talk into something positive.
The triple column technique is something I practiced in a group counseling session at Arizona State University. This technique allows you to clearly sort out and articulate your thoughts and feelings. First, you draw three columns. In the left column, write down your negative thoughts. Estimate your belief in each one of those thoughts. In the middle column, identify the distortions in each thought. You can ask yourself questions like, where do your negative thoughts come from? How does your negative self-talk make you feel? Then, in the right hand column, substitute these negative feelings with more realistic thoughts.
Writing is an introspective activity that anyone can do. Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I’ll take five minutes to write a gratitude list. Focusing on the things I am thankful for really helps me change my perspective on the bad things. Writing in a journal helps me to see the good in the bad.
Another way to overcome negative self-talk is to do the opposite and talk nicely to yourself. Don’t be afraid to talk aloud to yourself. It could be as simple as looking in the mirror and saying something nice to yourself like, “I can do this today.” Congratulate yourself when you do something good and try to be your own biggest cheerleader. You can write positive affirmations on sticky notes and put them on your mirror or wall. One that I like to keep on my mirror reads, “You are beautiful.”
Tell your negative self-talk that you won’t let it get in the way by wearing something that makes you feel confident. You can treat yourself to a nice breakfast in the morning or do something active to combat stress. Do something for yourself that makes you feel good inside. Try to treat yourself regularly.
Surrounding yourself with people who uplift you and believe in you is just as important as everything else. We all talk negatively to ourselves but find the friends with good listening ears when you need it. Find friends who reassure you of your capabilities and believe in you even when you don’t.
Lastly, make an effort to notice when you talk negatively to yourself. Count how many times a day you say something negative, or say one nice thing for every negative thing. When you become more conscious of how you talk to yourself, it becomes easier to practice healthier ways of self-talk.
Ultimately, negative self-talk can be defeated no matter the situation. With a bit of practice, negative self-talk is small compared to the drive and motivation you manifest to overcome it.
Here is the link to the article I referenced – https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/self-talk-exercises#3