Who else suffers from negative self-talk and wants to liberate themselves? I used to have a terrible opinion about my skills, my abilities, and myself in general. It is difficult and distressing to live this way. I mean, who feels good talking down about themselves all day? Nobody! Not only does it make you mentally sick, it is also holding you back from your dreams and successes.
I lived this destructive way for decades. Fortunately, I realized that I was wasting my life, if I didn’t get that BS out of my head. I was sick of it, and decided to find a way to stop my negative self-talk. My ultimate goal was to accept myself.
Here are three simple ways that have made the difference for me and gave me a sense of freedom:
The next time you catch yourself talking about yourself negatively, stop. Take your thoughts and put them into a story. Tell yourself the story in the third person, and use a different name than yours. This way you can disconnect yourself from the negative thoughts.
Here is an example what such a story could look like:
“Once upon a time, there was a woman named Pia. Her dream was to become a successful entrepreneur. It is not easy and Pia encountered some challenges. Pia talked down about herself and thought that she would never become a successful entrepreneur. She told herself that she is not good enough and does not have the right qualities. Pia met a friend to talk about her struggles. Fortunately, her friend pointed out that she had just hit a short-term challenge that is related to one specific situation, but does not relate to her skills and qualities. Pia’s friend told her that she could grow with this challenge. That changed Pia’s view of her own situation. She was happy and wanted to continue her journey straight away.”
By telling yourself a story, you take another perspective of the situation. From an external view, everything seems to be less difficult, because it is disconnected from yourself. This is the reason why we can give good advice to others, but struggle in similar situations when it directly affects ourselves. So, step out of yourself and take the view of a third person by telling yourself a story about your limiting thoughts.
“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” – Terry Pratchett
The challenge with negative self-talk is either to reframe our thoughts (e.g. seeing them from another perspective by telling a story) or to get out of our own heads. The latter does work when we can manage to focus on something else other than our challenge. I’ve learned that contributing to another person’s life really gets me out of my head, because I’m busy thinking about them.
There are two main benefits by serving beyond our own needs and doing something good for others:
- We get out of our heads through focusing on another person’s needs.
- We feel good because we know we are doing something great.
“The secret of living is giving!” – Anthony Robbins
Soon, this becomes a healthy habit. The focus shifts from ourselves to how we can contribute to others and the negative self-talk disappears. In fact, the self-talk changes from being negative to positive, simply because internally we know that we are doing the right thing by helping someone.
Try it out this week or month by volunteering at an event. Google local events. Volunteers are always welcome.
In general, it is not recommended to compare yourself with others. In this case, I’m telling you to do it! But the “others” are your former selves. See how much you have grown from where you were then to where you are today. Often, we overlook the progress we have already made. Without seeing progress, we tend to get discouraged and talk ourselves down; this is where negative self-talk starts.
Now, you can play against yourself. Compete with your former self regularly by practicing, for example, self-regulation. That means, instill healthy habits like exercising, eating healthy food, and getting up early, or habits that are beneficial to your specific situation. By strengthening your self-discipline, you’ll automatically feel better. And, you can tell your former self that you are better! That turns the negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
Eliminate the BS
Now you have three possible ways to either reframe your negative thoughts or to get out of your head completely. Experiment with them and have fun! Be a creative story-teller, a love-giving individual, or a successful competitor with several gold medals.