Following on from my last post about Negative Self Talk and how to recognise it, I have been asked to take things one step further and write about how you can work on silencing the self talk and reclaim your self confidence again.
It seems that this is an issue that faces many of us. And it is limiting and in some cases demoralising. Support to overcome it is available – one of the things that LifeRedesign specialises in is rebuilding self esteem. But there are steps you can take immediately that will help to alleviate the issue.
A common mistake that many people make is forced positive thinking. This creates a sense of unachievable pressure, and leads to an immediate sense of failure. Many well-meaning friends and family may suggest this as an action to help, but in reality, the only way to beat the negative voice within is to face it head on and challenge it.
And so to the solution – Identify, Assess, Reframe – three steps that will help you to understand what you are thinking. Much of it is so quick and automatic that we often don’t catch it unless we are paying attention. You will then review whether or not your judgement is sound and eventually, determine what the thought should be when it is balanced by rationale.
It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Simply follow this there step plan for one thought and you will be ready to rewire your self talk.
Keep a thoughts journal for a few days – be as detailed as you can. You want to note down the negative thought that you have, where you were, when it happened, what was happening, why it happened. Provide as much context as you can to help you assess it in step two.
The journal doesn’t need to be anything more fancy than an old note pad or even an app on your phone. Just make sure it is handy and ready to use when the negative self talk strikes.
Sit down somewhere quiet and devote some time to working through the thoughts you have captured. Look for the evidence that you can see in your notes or remember from when it happened, that supports your negative self talk. Think about the evidence that might exist that you are right. Or perhaps there is no evidence and your thought was unfair and too harsh.
Lets work through an example. You note down the thought “Everything I do is wrong – I cannot be trusted to do anything right” after putting the incorrect amount of salt into a new recipe that you are preparing for dinner.
What evidence is there that everything you do is wrong? Was every ingredient that you used wrong? No. Was the last meal you prepared a total disaster / inedible etc? No. Did anyone tell you that you do everything wrong? No. So in conclusion, there is no evidence to support your assessment that you do everything wrong.
Lets look at the other side of the argument – what do you do right? You regularly prepare tasty meals for your friends / family / self. No-one has ever been poisoned by your cooking. You enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.
Now lets look at what might have happened around you to cause you to put too much salt in the pot. Did you do it on purpose? No. Were you talking to someone? No. Were you watching a TV show on your tablet? No. The dog was barking at something outside and this distracted you…….
So now lets conclude the assessment. You put too much salt in one meal because you were distracted by the dog barking. Cause and effect. A single event.
Having established the facts around the negative thought, we can now reframe the thought in a more realistic way. Using the example we ran through in step two, we can instruct a balanced and reframed thought that is kinder and more empowering, as follows:
“This meal went wrong because I was distracted but next time I will know what to do”.
You acknowledge the fact that there was an issue but you turn the thought into practical future action.
The reframed thought is kinder, there is no blame attached to it.
Say the original thought and the reframed thought out loud and see how each one makes you feel – it is often a powerful difference.
And there you have it. Three practical steps that anyone can take to challenge their negative self talk and take control of their self esteem again.
If the amount of negative self talk that you experience has become more than you feel you can manage alone, help is at hand. LifeRedesign is ready to work with you, to help you through the process and to help you regain your confidence and inner sparkle.