In my book, Mindful Mastery: Find Focus, Get Unstuck, and Drop Into the Peak Performance Zone, I tell a story about the negative self-talk that was going through the head of Eddie the Eagle (Michael Edwards) while he was getting ready to do his first 90-meter ski jump at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
While at the top of the lift, the chatter inside his brain got so bad that day that he almost froze in place and didn’t make the jump.
Fortunately, Eddie was able to take back control of his negative self-talk so he could jump into history. The great news is so can you.
Negative self-talk affects us all. That’s why we’re going to talk about it in this article, so you can learn how to take back control of your mental chatter and create the kind of life you want to live.
How Negative Self Talk Affects You
The biggest issue with negative self-talk is it disrupts your productivity and gets in the way of your life goals.
Research has found that there are hundreds of negative conversations happening inside the head of every human being throughout your day.
The problem with this chatter is, after a while, this constant self-criticism can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, defeated, or even depressed.
If you find yourself engaging regularly in this type of negative self-talk, there are some simple things you can do to quickly switch gears and redirect your mindless, negative thoughts to more positive ones.
These processes will take practice, but if you try a little each day, you will begin to notice a positive shift in your thoughts and mindset.
Here Are Some Simple Tips You Can Do, Starting Today, to Help Halt Your Negative Self-talk
1. Take time out for belly breathing
People often resort to beating themselves up when they feel overwhelmed, have too much to do, or don’t know how to change their thoughts.
When this happens, take a deep, breath into your belly. Now let it go slowly. Now do this again two or three times.
Belly breathing helps by momentarily slowing down your thought process. This gives you time to think through your situation. Now, instead of thinking about how you can change your circumstances (which you can’t), you can choose to focus on the things you can control at this moment.
2. Acknowledge your thoughts.
When you have negative chatter going on in your brain, it’s important to acknowledge it. It’s also crucial to remember that it’s very natural (and healthy) to have negative thoughts.
Instead of trying to ignore these thoughts, use them as a signal that change is needed.
For example, if you’re feeling defeated, give yourself a little time to experience those feelings. As you do, realize that it’s normal to feel disappointed in yourself and your abilities from time to time.
Once you have allowed yourself to experience your feelings, refocus on what matters in your life and get on with what needs doing.
3. Look for the root cause of your negative self-talk.
Sometimes it can be good to take a minute to think about what could be behind your negative thoughts.
What is your negative self-talk telling you?
Do you find that your complaints and negative chatter are rooted in your inability to use your strengths, talents, and abilities?
For example, maybe you have really good communication skills, but you keep letting your negative self-talk hold you back. Now that you’ve recognized this, it’s time you learn to harness your talents by looking for opportunities to practice them.
As you begin to uncover the root cause behind your fears and negative feelings, you’ll understand that they are simply in your head. Because they are in your head and not real, you can do something about them.
4. Create a pattern for your daily activities.
Negative self-talk doesn’t usually come up when you’re totally involved in what you’re doing. You can help focus your mind by creating a routine.
Being able to work through your negative self-talk is one of the best ways to get past your toxic feelings.
You’ll have a much easier time working through these feelings if you wake up to a day filled with planned activities. This gives you less time to think about how you’re going to start your day and gets you mind focusing on what you will be doing.
If you rise at the same time, have the same breakfast, and exercise at the same time daily, you don’t have much time to overthink and get yourself worked up over nothing.
5. Consciously work to silence your inner critic.
While your mind can power through negative thoughts by itself, often it doesn’t want to. While your negative self-talk isn’t helpful, it is familiar, and your brain doesn’t like change.
What can you do?
Give your mind a helping hand. Pay attention and when you notice you’re about to indulge in negative self-talk, tell yourself “Cancel, cancel” and then go on with what you were doing.
Make a habit on consciously letting the negative thoughts pass without acting on them.
The more you practice this, the better you’ll get at controlling your negative thinking.
You Can Take Control of Your Self Talk
What you focus on is the driving force behind everything you do. Your focus is controlled by what you tell yourself.
This means it’s imperative to learn how to shift your thoughts when negative self-talk pop ups.
Use these 5 simple tips to help you take control of your negative self-talk. This will give you the power to change the way you think about yourself and, ultimately, your life.