The sleep study is in the books – both my daughter and husband survived. Now we wait to find out if my daughter has sleep apnea. She was diagnosed when she was smaller, but a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy solved the problem at the time. But now, we could be looking at a CPAP machine (a machine to that uses pressure to keep the breathing passages open) while she is asleep – the doctor even noted that most kids don’t do very well with them. Not a surprise as many adults don’t do well either!
We’ll know the results next Monday. Fingers crossed…
Today, we re going to talk about self-talk. I have mentioned it in a previous article and I thought it would be good to dig a little deeper on what this means.
Remember that inner voice that always seems to be running? It’s constantly “telling” you what you should do, what you might do, and reflecting on things you’ve already done. It evaluates what you do while you’re doing it, providing opinions and suggesting possible ramifications and outcomes. This is one type of inner monologue which psychologists have identified and labeled as “self-talk”.
To get a better idea of exactly what self-talk is, psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne likens self talk to the “equivalent of sports announcers commenting on a player’s successes or failures on the playing field.” Unlike athletes that never hear a television or radio sports commentator’s voice, you definitely “hear” what your self-talk is telling you.
Unfortunately, this voice can sometimes be negative.
Think about the last time you did something embarrassing. You may have experienced self-talk telling you how stupid you were. Sometimes it’s critical even if you haven’t done anything wrong. It reminds you that you’re probably going to mess something up, because you’ve done it in the past.
As it turns out, you can respond with negative and positive self-talk to the same situation. It all depends on how you lead your thoughts. For instance, pretend that you have just eaten at a restaurant that all your friends think is amazing. You thought it was overpriced, the food was boring at best, the service stunk, and you had to wait too long to be served.
You find yourself at a party with your friends, when several of them corner you and excitedly ask you what you thought about the restaurant they recommended. You tell them your feelings, holding nothing back. They all say you are crazy, that it’s the greatest restaurant of all time.
Your inner dialogue can respond in two ways.
You could tell yourself, “Why didn’t you just keep your mouth shut!? Now you look like an idiot.” However, in response to the exact same situation, you could choose positive, constructive self-talk instead. You could say, “You stuck up for your beliefs. You reported exactly what happened, you didn’t overstate the situation, and it’s okay if your friends disagree with you about this unimportant topic.”
Psychologists believe that consistently driving your self-talk in a positive, constructive direction can train your mind to respond that way. At first, it’ll difficult to redirect your inner voice. Subconscious responses will just pop to the surface. However, by continually addressing dysfunctional self-talk and turning it around, you create less stress in your life, boost your self-esteem, and feel better about your inner dialogue.
The Best Ways to Halt Negative Self-Talk in its Tracks
Everyone, whether they are successful or not, has an inner critic in their heads that judges them, doubts them, belittles them, and that always tells them that they aren’t good enough. The difference between successful people and everyone else is that they’ve learned to ignore this critic and eliminate the negative self-talk. They understand that everything that they say to themselves matters. Unfortunately, your inner critic can stop you from pursuing the life you truly want to live. Here are several of the best ways to stop the negative self-talk.
Know the Critic
You have to become aware of your inner critic if you want to gain control over it. Most of our thinking happens so quickly that we barely notice it. The negative self-talk does the same – it creeps up on you before you know it. This means that you’ll have to make a conscious effort to slow down and pay attention to your inner thoughts. This will help you notice when the critic is present.
Isolate Yourself from the Critic
Your inner critic thrives best when you mistake it for being part of your authentic self. To separate yourself from this critic you need to give it a name. You can give it any name you want, like The Nag. The important thing is that you need to separate it from your own identity; you can essentially free yourself from its influence.
Talk Back to It
The only way to take away your inner critic’s power is by talking back to it. It sounds weird, right? But remember, we have conversations in our heads all the time – about what to where, what to eat, where to go. In this conversation, you should tell your inner critic that you don’t want to hear what it is saying. Speaking back to it allows you to feel that you have a choice in the matter—or control of the situation. When the critic starts to talk, just tell it to go away and that you refuse to listen. You can get a cheat sheet of positive self-talk affirmations that can help you confront the negative critic here.
Swap the Critic for a Friend
The best way to defeat the critic once and for all is to have an even stronger ally on your side. You need to develop an inner voice that acts like your best friend rather than your worst enemy. To do this, you need to identify all the good things about yourself – a self-assessment. You have positive traits – we all do – and you should acknowledge that fact and the fact that you can accomplish anything.
I found that my inner critic was worse in high-pressure situations like medical school. There was always someone with a better grade or a better answer; it’s the nature of the beast.
But the inner critic would then go to work. I had to learn pretty quickly to substitute a positive voice. Med school was still hard, and there were still times that I didn’t have all the answers. But instead of tearing myself down, I would try to find ways to be better – study harder, study differently, ask more questions. It worked – I graduated.
Breaking the cycle of negative self-talk requires a conscious effort to recognize your inner critic and change the way you interact with it. By eliminating negative self-talk from your life, you’ll start to see a dramatic shift in your mindset and be able to find success in both your personal and professional lives.
Have you had a conversation with your inner critic? How do you keep your critic at bay? Tell us in the comments! And don’t forget to get your FREE POSITIVE SELF-TALK CHEAT SHEET.
Loving Life—The Reboot!