It's one of the most destructive forces you'll ever have to face, and it's inside your own head.
It's that negative, judgmental voice telling you you're not smart enough or you don't work hard enough or you don't deserve to succeed.
We all have a constantly running soundtrack of self-talk in our head.
It's stronger in some than in others, and the content is variable, too. A lot of it is harmless, even helpful--"Don't forget, you're meeting with John"--but if your inner voice ever takes a negative turn, you need to know how to tame it.
Here are eight powerful ways to quiet your negative self-talk:
1. Listen to what you're telling yourself as if you were telling it to other people. None of us would ever speak to anyone the way we speak to ourselves. We're too often negative, condescending, and just outright rude. Learn to treat yourself with the same patience, compassion, and respect you would give to any other person.
2. Remember, someone is listening. If your self-talk is positive, you'll have positive thoughts and actions; if it's negative, it will create negative thoughts and actions--and, most likely, negative outcomes. Negative self-talk can even lower your self-confidence, so remind yourself that you're listening to yourself and that the consequences are as real as if you were talking to someone else.
3. Be conscious of what you say. Rethink your thoughts. Sometimes repeating a thought more than once and really listening to what we're saying is enough to snap us back into reality. Over time, work to build more constant conscious awareness of how you talk to yourself.
4. Stop judging yourself so harshly. A lot of low self-esteem comes from harsh and merciless self-judgment. Sometimes our judgment is distorted and our thoughts become warped into negativity. If you tend to judge yourself harshly, the best way to tame the negative talk is to ask others how they see you, and listen to what they say. You might be surprised! Another technique is to ask yourself how you'd consider someone with about the same level of talent, ability, and accomplishments.
5. Accept your imperfections. No one is perfect, and the sooner you know it, the better off you will be. We all have strengths and weaknesses. If you choose to concentrate on your weaknesses rather than your strengths, you'll spend a lifetime feeling that you can never measure up. But if you choose to spend your time on what you're good at, your thoughts will be positive and gratifying.
6. Back up for a better view. If you're serious about taming your self-talk, take a step back and really listen to your thoughts. Write them in a journal in any form that appeals to you, then go back and read them after some time has passed. Once you've done that, you're already engaging in the process of repair. Sometimes when we create distance, we can see how far we have come.
7. Distract yourself to reboot your mind. You may sometimes become so busy overthinking everything that your thoughts go around and around and you cannot stop yourself from thinking and rethinking the same negative thought. If that happens, distract yourself. Stop thinking and start doing. Stop chasing the wrong thing; give yourself time to catch up with the right things. Maybe by distracting yourself you can figure out what is right for you.
8. Not everything that was true in the past is true today. Just because something happened to you in the past doesn't make it true today. In the here and now, you are more skilled, more qualified to be doing what you need to do. Any thoughts and beliefs about yourself from the past no longer pertain. Some things we have to leave in the past while we work on being successful for the future.
In short, there are exactly two things that can prevent us from positivity and happiness: living in the past and treating ourselves negatively. Don't be guilty of either; learn to tame your negative thoughts so you think about a positive future.