Whether we intend it or not, we all have self-talk or a script that runs in the background giving you a commentary on any given situation. Sometimes your self-talk is encouraging, uplifting and keeps you motivated. However, sometimes your self-talk is damaging and reinforces negative beliefs you have about yourself or your abilities.
One way to minimize negative self-talk is to practice mindfulness. Focusing on the present situation removes the distractions of what’s going on inside your head.
Distracting yourself from your negative self-talk is only a temporary solution. Ultimately you need to replace the negative statements with positive ones. Your mind can only register so many thoughts at once. You can flush out negative thoughts by forcing yourself to mull over positive thoughts that are supportive and affirming.
But of course it’s not effective to simply think positively. The more specific you are, the more effective the affirming statement. In fact, by creating affirming statements in the language that you are likely to use and that is personal, the more likely you are able to spontaneously conjure these positive thoughts and have them replace the negative ones.
Let’s looks specifically at how to do this.
Make a list of all the things you say to yourself that are negative and do not support your goal.
Don’t record the neutral things that are inconsequential. This would be something like “I need to keep my kitchen clean.” However, if you are always putting yourself down because of your inability to keep your kitchen clean, you should write a statement related to this. In this case, the focus of the statement is on your failing or shortcoming for being unable to meet a goal rather than on the goal itself.
Make a second list of affirming statements that you would like to believe. You can create this list from your first list of negative thoughts. Change each statement by stating your desired behavior positively.
Make the statement personal by using the word “I.” Then, write your affirming statements as if you already believe it.
I can never seem to get my anger under control.
I have found ways to express my feelings without acting out my frustrations.
The affirming statement is the way you would like to respond to frustration. Even if you still need a lot of practice expressing your feelings without blowing up, telling yourself you are capable of doing this is the first step in gaining control. If you convince yourself that you have an anger problem that has no solution, then you will remain defeated in this area and give up on making changes. Why fight a battle that’s already lost?
Next, you want to practice saying and thinking your statements. There is a saying used in 12-step programs that says “fake it ’til you make it.” That’s the concept here. By repeating theses affirming statements you can get to the place where you internalize them. You want to get to the point where they are no longer sentences that you read from a paper, but thoughts that spontaneously come to mind and replace your previous thoughts.
Using positive affirmations you can turn your negative self-talk into positive, affirming statements. These statements can increase your motivation, confidence and sense of peace.
Recognize one negative thought that you have about yourself. Think about something you’re not good at or a goal you have that you can’t seem to reach. Write down what you say to yourself to explain your fault or failing. Then turn the statement around to sound as if a friend were trying to get you to think on the bright side. Purpose to use the statement whenever the situation presents itself.