How to Deal With Negative Self Talk

You know, that voice in your head….
Come on I know it’s not just me that has it!

You’d be amazed at just how many people want to deny that it’s even there though.

I often ask people at live events to raise their hands if they have a voice in their heads, and the audience will fall in to one of these categories;

  • ‘Hell yeah’ – Hand is in the air before I finish the question
  • ‘Let me just check’ – Hand goes in the air but they want to check that it won’t be just them
  • ‘What you talking about woman?!’ – I’m not admitting that in public

Let’s face it we all have that voice in our head, in fact we have more than one. Which one do you listen to the most?

It’s one of the most commonly asked questions ‘How do I deal with that negative voice?’ Most people want to switch it off, so how exactly can you go about this?

There are many methodologies and theories that can help with this and I as I am not sure where you are and what you have used, so I am actually only going to focus on one. If I list out all the possibilities and options it can create overwhelm – haven’t got time to start or confusion – I don’t know where to start. And in the scenario, we end up doing nothing. How’s that going to change anything?? Where as when you have one thing to focus on it will bring it into focus, and give your brain one thing to think about, practice and apply, then you have the opportunity to create change. And if this method doesn’t work then you choose another ONE to give your full attention to and see if that’s your thang.

The reason for choosing this over anything is? It was the first place that I started with when growing my own confidence and stepping in a new direction of self belief and kinder self talk.

My negative self talk was constant, to be honest it still is. The difference now though is that I listen to it less, I challenge it – kindly and look for other possibilities.

Here’s how I started.

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If it’s safe to do so lift both of your arms out to the side as if making the sign of the cross. Now look at one of your hands, either is right. Give that hand your full attention. See if you can spot the smallest of hairs or freckles. Notice the pulse running into that hand. Notice all the details as if it were under a microscope.

Now, whilst you are looking at that hand, is it possible for you to see your other hand? My guess would be no, and yet that other hand is still there, right? Yet while you focus even more attention in on that first hand, you can end up forgetting that the other hand is there. I could also get to the point of thinking that this is the only hand that you have. Now this might sound strange but it is in actuality how the brain works. When you are focusing in on one thing, giving it your full attention everything else can feel like it disappears.

Now imagine that hand you are giving your full attention to is that negative voice. You want to ignore it, change it, get rid of it and yet all your attention/energy is going towards it and has been for years. So instead of expecting yourself to be able switch that off immediately and only hear the ‘positive’ stuff, you need to realise that it will take some conscious choosing on your part. Maybe you first need to take responsibility and realise just how much attention YOU are giving that hand/negative self talk – I am not denying that you may have originally heard it from someone else, but now it only exists in your head, so it’s the attention that you give it that keeps it alive.

Whenever you notice this focus, think about it’s impact on how you feel and realise that you feel this way because of how you are speaking internally, to and about yourself. Then ask yourself these questions

‘Is this how I want to feel?’

If the answer is yes, great carry on. If your answer is no ask the next question.

‘How do I want to feel?’

Be specific rather than ‘better’. For example, I want to feel happy, excited about life, confident or calm.

Now you have decided on how you want to feel ask this…

“What do you now need to focus on in order to feel this?’

Write a list. Challenge yourself to come up with around 20 new focal points. Each time checking in that these could help you feel the new feeling that you are wanting.

Then make it a point to focus on one. Give it your full energy, full attention, each and every time you notice that negative voice appear. It’s all about retraining your brain and mind to help you and yes that does take effort!

Effort feeds Esteem

Effort feeds Esteem

There is no switch.

You can not shut that voice off immediately.

You can make a choice where to focus and what you give your attention to.

A real world example of this for me is in my writing. I was once told by a teacher that I wasn’t any good at writing, in fact he told me the only thing I would be any good for was working in a bar. I took his words as a truth and gave them plenty of attention over the years, both consciously and unconsciously. Every time I sat to write I would hear them echoing around and I’d listen to them giving them my full attention, even though what I wanted to do was write. I struggled, avoided writing it where possible and even ‘forget’ that I had to do it. Which led to all sorts of issues and problems at work. Then one day I asked myself, is this how I want to feel about writing’ the answer was NO! So how did I want to feel?’ excited and open to learn. So I said to myself, ‘OK, what do you need to focus on to feel excited and open?’ Now at first I didn’t know, as I was looking in a new place which at first glance seemed empty. But the longer I gave it my attention, the longer I asked the question and gave my attention to the empty space, answers began to appear. Were they always the right answers? Maybe, maybe not. The process was just showing that there were more choices, more possibilities that I had been giving full attention to. Does that mean that I am the best and a perfect writer…does it heck! But I at least enjoy it now and am still open to learning.

‘What do you need to give your attention to in order to feel how you want to?’