What is Self-talk?
Self-talk, also known as your internal dialogue, is influenced by your subconscious and can reveal your thoughts, beliefs, questions and ideas. When your self-talk is negative, it can affect your mental health entirely. Self-talk begins at a young age and can be influenced by our social environment. Friends, family and teachers can all influence the way you think abut yourself— both good and bad.
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize when you’re talking down on yourself, but the first step to getting rid of any negative self-talk is to become aware of when you’re doing it. For example, you try on an article of clothing, look at yourself in the mirror and think “Wow, I look awful. I’m so fat that I can no longer look right in my clothing.” That’s negative self-talk. When you find yourself doing this, try saying something like, “I’ve gained a little weight. But that’s O.K., my body is always changing. I am healthy.” Rephrasing your negative thoughts has a huge impact on eliminating negative self-talk. You’ll feel uncomfortable when you first try rephrasing yourself, and that’s because you’re so accustomed to talking poorly to yourself and about yourself. Give it time, and eventually you’ll feel comfortable enough in your skin to rephrase and improve positive self-talk.
Journal in 3rd Person
Journaling is a practice that many counselors suggest to their clients to keep a clear head space and reflect on their moods. Journaling can also be a way to practice positive self-talk. Instead of journaling in a first-person point of view, you can try writing in third-person— meaning you will write from the perspective of an outsider. “Caroline had a bad day today. But, she had the right to. She’s allowed to have bad days when things upset her.” Weird, right? That’s O.K.! Just like we discussed previously, you’re going to feel uncomfortable doing all of these things. If you feel too strange writing about yourself, try starting out with shorter sentences or bullet points rather than full pages.
The Mayo Clinic identifies four common types of negative self-talk: filtering, personalizing, catastrophizing and polarizing. Let’s break it down.
Filtering: magnifying the negative aspects of a situation and filtering out all of the positive ones
Example: You paint a picture for your friend, who loves it and raves about how good of an artist you are. You then realize a small detail you missed and can’t stop thinking about how awful it looks, rather than accepting the compliments.
Personalizing: automatically blaming yourself when something bad happens
Example: Your friends cancel their weekend plans with you because they’re busy, but you take it upon yourself to assume they don’t want to spend time with you.
Catastrophizing: Automatically anticipating the worst
Example: You’re on your way to work and you slip and fall causing you to rip a hole in the knee of your pants. This is the worst! Your whole day is now ruined!
Polarizing: Only seeing things as good or bad
Example: There’s only two things you can be: perfect or a failure.
All four of these types are damaging to your mental health, and cause extra stress on your every day life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, give us a call at 330-270-8610 or visit us at ondemandcounseling.com.