Have you ever paid attention to how you speak to yourself? You know… the internal dialogue that happens in your mind automatically and sometimes without your full awareness? That, my friends, is self-talk.
Like when you royally screw something up – nice going pea-brain.
Or when you choke on your words in front of someone you’re trying to chat up – smooth moves loser!
Self-talk can be negative or positive depending on a lot of factors, but for many of us, it’s self-deprecating, limiting, and diminishes our ability to do things well. Worse, your inner dialogue is more likely to lean negative if you struggle to fit in with societal standards.
Self-Talk for the “Socially Deviant”
It’s hard enough just being different. Stepping out on a limb to be your awesomely, dangerously, polyamorous / swinger / kinky / LGBT+ self can be difficult enough. You may deal with fear of judgement from friends, family, and society as a whole. Plus, not fitting into the neat little box that was laid out for you by cultural norms and Disney movies the moment you were born can cause anxiety and depression. It can make it difficult to accept yourself as you are, which means you’re more likely to berate yourself for being different. Worse still, the negative self-talk that results can increase those feelings of anxiety and depression.
The words we use when speaking to ourselves are powerful and can have an impact on the chemistry of our brains. Negative self-talk can obliterate a person’s confidence, ability to recognize opportunities, mental health, relationships, and approach to life. It can make it difficult for you to engage with others socially, go after the things you want, and feel successful in life. When the square peg keeps getting pushed into the round hole it can get bruised.
This negative self-talk is more than just mental chatter though. It’s a pattern, and our brains love patterns. Each time you engage in negative self-talk, especially when it’s done unconsciously, your brain will begin looking for evidence to support your negative thinking, thus, forcing you to believe that the negative things you’re saying to yourself are true. Until we become aware of these patterns they’ll continue on and on, crushing our ability to feel confident in who we are.
To your brain, which is a gray mass nestled in your skull, the real and imagined world are almost impossible to tell apart. What you imagine, for some parts of your mind, are as real as anything you can touch. negative self talk is a prison for the soul as real as any super max jail.
Eliminating Negative Self-Talk
Hey, would you let someone talk to your friend the way you talk to you? If the voice in your head were another person, would you hang out with them? If not, good news is, there are tools you can use to help improve your relationship with yourself and the internal dialogue that rattles on incessantly in your brain. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a tool that many therapists use to help their patients change the patterns of their mind. This involves becoming aware of the distortions in your thinking, reevaluating them in the light of reality, using problem solving skills to cope with difficult situations, and learning to develop a better sense of confidence in who you are as a person and your own abilities.
Some use Internal Family Systems. Ever watch Herman’s Head or Inside Out? It’s like that. Within you is an ecosystem of your core self, exiles (unhelpful behaviors), firefighters (behaviors that come out in emergencies to control the exiles), and guardians (behaviors that manage us through the day). These feelings are unblended, given personas, and then jobs that suit their strengths and allow them to meet their purpose, to help you.
Positive Psychology may also be helpful. That means building on your strengths as a means of improving your overall sense of wellbeing. Take time to savor your positive emotions, engage in things you are good at, build positive relationships with people you enjoy, find meaning and purpose in life, and set achievable goals that you can celebrate and feel good about.
Finally, Mirror Work can be an intense and effective approach to help seeing yourself in a more positive light.
Often as a package deal, poor self talk is bundled with poor self image and / or poor boundary setting. If negative self-talk is a problem you struggle with , seek guidance from a trained mental health professional. Therapy can help you work towards shifting your mental chatter and developing a more positive relationship with yourself. For many, working through the effects of negative self-talk is an important part of their journey to self-discovery, and living freely as their truest selves. To get started, schedule a free, brief consultation with me using the form below.