Life Area: Personal
Topic: Negative Self-Talk
5 Ways to Turn Your Negative Self-Talk Into Positive Self-Talk
Whether you tell yourself, “I’m never going to be promoted,” or you constantly think, “People think I’m weird,” negative self-talk affects how you feel and how you behave. In fact, the conversations you have with yourself often turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For example, imagine someone who thinks, “I’m socially awkward and no one wants to talk to me.” To cope with their awkwardness, they avoid striking up conversations with people and limit their interactions. Consequently, people think the person is socially awkward and therefore that belief about themselves is confirmed.
I’m reminded of a story my mentor and friend, Coach John Wooden, told me years ago of a prospective recruit visiting UCLA and telling Coach that he felt the people in Los Angeles weren’t very friendly. To which Coach challenged the young recruit that maybe it was he that was being stand-offish and not being very friendly to those who greeted him.
Negative self-talk and having our own limiting beliefs is a universal problem. Read about how to transcend your limiting beliefs in this guest post [here] and listen to this Talk with Tom podcast episode to learn more. Over the years, I’ve coached countless people on changing their negative dialogue. And I’ve seen first-hand how developing a more productive inner dialogue helps individuals create a more optimistic outlook and create positive change.
So whether you call yourself names or you always talk yourself out of trying something new, here’s how to deal with negative thoughts in a healthy way:
1. Recognize Your Negative Thoughts
When you get an email from the boss that says, “I need to meet with you as soon as possible,” is your first thought that you’re about to be fired or do you think you must be getting a raise?
Many of your thoughts are automatic. They just pop into your head without any conscious effort.
So it’s important to take a second to evaluate your thoughts so you can recognize thoughts that are unrealistic, unproductive, or irrational.
2. Look for Evidence That Your Thought IS True
Just because you think something doesn’t make it true. In fact, most of your thoughts are more likely to be opinions rather than facts.
So ask yourself, “What’s the evidence that this IS true?” Sticking with the example of the email from the boss, what evidence do you have that you’re about to be fired?
Create a list of the evidence that supports your thoughts. Perhaps you called in sick for days in a row recently. Or maybe you missed a deadline on an important project a month earlier. List as many reasons as you can.