3 Steps To Control Negative Self Talk

Personal Growth, Wellbeing

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There is nothing, nothing I feel more defeating as an entrepreneur than dealing with yourself (and our negative self talk). Setbacks, lack of finances, everything else is easier to deal with if we didn’t have ourselves in the way (am I right?).

As entrepreneurs, business owners, self employed (whatever sounds right to you) we’re faced every day with the same questions “Can I do this?”, “Who am I to do this”, “Am I being unrealistic” and the list goes on.

 

 

I’m truly convinced that (and you probably know this) it’s the way we talk to ourselves in our heads that affect us more than what’s actually happening.

Especially when we’re starting out.

Here are 3 steps to help control the negative self talk chatter that’s killing our motivation and self esteem.

 

Take time out to be aware of your negative self talk

It all begins with awareness.

In meditation being consumed by constant thought is called the “the monkey mind”.

Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention 1

Well done to Buddha for catching on to our crazy ass minds over 2,000 years ago.

According to studies, over 96% of adults “engage in internal dialogue” 2.  Which we all know is just a fancy way to say we talk to ourselves. Not the out-loud-admitting-we’re-crazy kind of talk. But the internal, full of thoughts, constantly questioning kind of talk.

And if we were really honest with ourselves. Are the monkeys nice? No.

In fact we hear the term ‘we are our harshest critic’ (fist bump to whoever came up with that too) because it’s true. Our negative self talk can be an a** at best.

The human mind seems to focus on the negative, and we tend to berate ourselves in ways we would never tolerate from a boss, spouse, or anyone else. 3

And that’s the most ironic part. While we won’t accept how we speak to ourselves by anyone else. We accept our internal dialogue like it’s right. Or better yet we don’t accept it at all because we don’t even realise it!

The only way to stop this internal dialogue (and get those damn monkeys to stop drinking) is to listen to how we talk to ourselves. And how tough our negative self talk is.

 

Meditation

If you meditate, you’ll know this feeling well. Meditation is about letting those thoughts come up and acknowledging them. You allow a part of you to say “Ok, I can hear you”. But your seperate from the thought.

Mediation is just one way to get that awareness.

 

Schedule time in the day to acknowledge your thoughts

Another one is choose a time to acknowledge your thoughts as they come up during the day. In the car for example. I don’t know about you but driving is usually where most of my thoughts come pouring through.

While you’re lost in thought, try and pull yourself out of it.

Acknowledge what you’ve said.

The first few times are hard. But slowly, you’ll start realising them as they come up.

 

Keep a “thought record” 4

There’s nothing that can give you a good kick in the behind that writing down your thoughts. Visually seeing how you communicate to yourself.

But for all the changes that can come from realising your negative self talk, it’s worth it.

 

 

Ask yourself some questions (challenge your negative self talk)

To change your self-talk, you must confront the second person or your inner critic, who probably isn’t dealing in truth. 5

 

You might be thinking well now I ‘acknowledge’ that my shits all over the place and my mind agrees. But next?

Some good ol’ questions.

Now we’ve had a look at ourselves.

The next is to ask how that makes us feel?

And the big one is – “is this really true or is it our drunken ass, super convincing monkeys just having a good time”.

A lot of people usually recommend jumping to the change your thoughts, replace it with a positive jazz.

But if you don’t actually stop and think to yourself “who do I speak to myself this way” and “what would I have to believe to think this way”, you might not find the motivation to change you’re thinking.

Some of this can be difficult and really disheartening.

We’re not just challenging our thoughts now, but our beliefs. The beliefs that these thoughts start from.

But in a world where you deserve better and your mind tells you otherwise. It’s some digging we all need to do from time to time.

So some key questions I’ve asked myself are:

  • What do I have to believe to think that
  • What would I say to someone else saying this
  • What I accept being spoken to this way by someone else
  • Is this really true
  • Should I take advice from this person (for a thought that’s from someone else’s opinion about us)
  • How can I learn from this

Relevant posts for entrepreneurship and goal setting:

 

Replace it!

Once you’ve had a good think about your thoughts and questioned them, you’ll have a better idea on why your negative self talk is just that.

 

Replace with positive, present tense self talk

Put your new self-talk in the present tense as if the change had already taken place. The subconscious mind does not know what is true and what is not. In time, it will believe these new messages and act accordingly. You must paint an entirely new picture for your subconscious mind to derive the full benefit of your new self- talk. 6

I attended a course by Jack Delosa once and he said “Nothing is my fault, but everything is my responsibility”. That one has really stuck with me for the times I’ve catched myself playing the victim.

Or maybe something like “Today I worked hard and though not everything worked out the way I had hoped, I feel good about myself, and to- morrow will be even better.” 7 works better for you.

Whatever it is. It’s about changing the way we see challenges and how we talk to ourselves about them. 8

 

Replace the disempowering questions with empowering questions 9

A lot of our thoughts come in the form of questions. “Why does this always happen to me” is a big one!!

Change that question ASAP! A solid replacement (that I’ve used a LOT lately) is “how can I learn from this”.

This has been one of the most useful ones for me personally.

If you want to change the quality of your life, change the quality of your questions. Don’t ask, “Why do things like this always happen to me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” Instead, ask, “What is actually happening?” “What is not happening?” “What can I do about this?” 10

 

 

 

Talk to yourself compassionately

You can do all this and still wonder why your not feeling motivated or positive. And most of it is not just what we say to ourselves but how we say it.

You’d be amazed on how much your perspective changes when you approach yourself with the kindness we so quickly share offer others.

When someone else makes a mistake we say “don’t worry, it happens, you learnt from it right?”.

When it’s us it’s more like “why do I always mess things up”. Or you’re quick to jump to all the things you did wrong.

Yep there’s a time and a place to look at the things we’re doing and how we can improve them. But talking to ourselves nicely will help us learn more!

So instead of saying you messed it up, say you learnt from it and you’ll keep learning. I tell myself if I’m uncomfortable that’s okay, it just means I’m growing.

We’re all going to make a lot of mistakes. That’s inevitable. But being nicer to ourselves about it makes life and learning a lot more enjoyable.

 

Negative self talk can be deflating as an entrepreneur. But they key thing to remember through all this is how to ‘control’ your negative self talk. We’re not perfect. It will always be there for us to correct and pull ourselves back from. But the effort to do this is worth it if it means we can do a lot better for ourselves.

So do like The Little Engine that could and tell yourself you think you can 11. Or do like this guy and tell yourself your awesome (after asking all the right questions first!).

 

Notes:

  1. Budda: How To Tame Your Monkey Mind, B.J. Gallagher. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bj-gallagher/buddha-how-to-tame-your-m_b_945793.html
  2. Chris P. Neck, a., & Charles C. Manz, a. (1992). Thought Self-Leadership: The Influence of Self-Talk and Mental Imagery on Performance. Journal Of Organizational Behavior, (7), 681.
  3. White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  4. 12White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  5. 13White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  6. White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  7. 14White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  8. 15White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  9. White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  10. White, S. J. (2008). Using self-talk to enhance career satisfaction and performance. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(6), 514-519. doi:10.2146/ajhp070147
  11. Chris P. Neck, a., & Charles C. Manz, a. (1992). Thought Self-Leadership: The Influence of Self-Talk and Mental Imagery on Performance. Journal Of Organizational Behavior, (7), 681.
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