So now that we’ve been talking about what negative self-talk is, we need to figure out how to challenge it and ultimately how to stop it, and change it into a more empowering self-statement.
Even though you can’t always control the situation you’re in or change other people, you can change the way you think about the situation or person. Self-talk refers to those thoughts or things you say to yourself.
The problem with self-talk is that what you think or say to yourself might seem true. You might assume that your thoughts are facts, when in actuality they are your perceptions. Sometimes these perceptions might be biased or incorrect.
Self-talk can be skewed towards the negative, and sometimes it’s just plain wrong. Especially if you’re depressed, it’s likely that you could be interpreting things negatively. When you feel anxious, depressed or stressed out, your self-talk is likely to become extreme—you’ll be liable to expect the worst and focus on the most negative aspects of your situation. So it’s helpful to try and put things in perspective.
That’s why it’s useful to keep an eye on the things you tell yourself, and challenge some of the negative aspects of your thinking. You can test, challenge and change your self-talk by identifying the irrational parts and replacing them with more reasonable, truthful thoughts.
Changing the way you think about things might not be easy at first, but with time and practice, you’ll get better at it. Give it a try—it’s worth the effort! With practice, you can learn to notice your own negative self-talk as it happens, and consciously choose to think about the situation in a more realistic and helpful way.
Dispute the self-talk
Disputing your self-talk means challenging the negative or unhelpful aspects of your thinking. Doing this enables you to feel better and to respond to situations in a more helpful way.
Once you start examining your thoughts, you’ll probably be surprised by how much of your thinking is inaccurate, exaggerated or focused on the negatives of the situation.
Whenever you find yourself feeling depressed, angry, anxious or upset, use this as a signal to reflect on your thinking. A good way to test the accuracy of your perceptions might be to ask yourself some challenging questions. These questions will help you check out your self-talk and see whether your current interpretation is reasonable. It can also help you discover other ways of thinking about your situation. Recognizing that your current way of thinking might be self-defeating—and prevent you from getting what you want out of life—can sometimes motivate you to look at things from a different perspective.
Ask yourself these four main types of questions:
1. Reality testing
What evidence supports my thinking? What proof is there that my thinking is false?
Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
2. Alternative explanations
Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
What else could the situation mean?
If I were being positive, how would I perceive this situation?
Is this situation as bad as I’m making out to be?
What’s the worst thing that could happen? How likely is that?
What’s the best thing that could happen?
What’s most likely to happen?
Is there anything good about this situation?
Will this matter in five years?
4. Goal-directed thinking
Is thinking this way helping me feel good or achieve my goals?
What can I do that will help me solve the problem?
Is there something I can learn from this situation to help me in the future?
Personally I think these are some really great questions to ask ourselves. Especially when we’re lost in the heat of our own emotional moment we forget that there is more going on in the world beyond our own perspective. As Borderlines we need to learn to say Stop, to ourselves. We need to learn to say, Breath. We need to learn to Respond, instead of React…. And this includes that internal monologue going on inside of ourselves, not just with those people around us.
You, are the most important person in your life. Has anyone ever told you that before? Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people in your life that probably rank extremely high, maybe just as important as yourself… but you should be #1. And you should treat yourself with the kindness and caring that you would want others to show you. Or that you would want to show someone else for whom you care. So don’t let yourself fall into the trap of treating yourself negatively, even if it’s just inside the confines of your own mind.
Even if the situation is small, stop yourself, think about the situation with perspective, and talk to yourself with an appropriate voice.
For the First and Third part of this series go to: