We all have our inner voice and use it daily, whether we realize it or not. But it’s not always the best advisor.
Luckily, overcoming negative self-talk is possible by breaking a few bad habits we have.
Who needs enemies?
After all, we do a pretty good job undermining ourselves.
When I look back over the years I’m unable to point to anyone who has held me back. Not one soul.
No one has stopped me applying for a new job, learning a new skill or getting to know someone. The only stumbling block has been me.
My trusted source for advice has been the voice of my mind. If I need advice I would chat to close friends or family but my thoughts are the final arbiter.
This special “advisor” is my constant companion. I don’t need to go anywhere, meditate or do any special preparation. Everyone has this mental narrative. It’s always there, good or bad. This voice is known as self-talk and it’s often negative.
Trouble is, being generally negative, self-talk can instil poor habits. Habits that hold us back from growing in confidence.
The Voice That Instills Habits
Self-talk can create and perpetuate a fear of failure, a fear of not being good enough or of looking stupid.
But why listen to this mental chatter? It’s rarely right. It’s just one big fiction in an over busy mind.
Self-talk will always exist but we can learn to observe it rather than react to it. You can stop it from directing your path and your outlook on life.
Memories Can Perpetuate Habits
I can think of two years in my childhood when I was happy amongst my peers. Much of the remaining time I was at the receiving end of constant bullying.
For example, some children would invite me out to play, then around the corner a larger group would be waiting to taunt me and push me around. I chose friendships cautiously ever since.
I formed a habit of mistrust. Just obeying that voice, that exclaims “They don’t really like me”.
Through its influence on behaviors, the negative self-talk can set you on a path that holds back your development instead of encouraging you to better things.
As intelligent people however, we can learn to form new habits and change the nature of self-talk. The first step is to look out for the habits driven by this negative inner voice so we can start to change our response.
Overcoming Negative Self-Talk: 7 Habits to Stop Doing
1. Believing yourself.
Do not trust the stories you tell yourself. It is fear of the unknown disguised as logical reasoning.
You should still think issues through or weigh up the pros and cons of a decision. I often don’t make an effort to get to know people because I tell myself they’re not interested. This just makes me harder to get to know and I create the disinterest.
2. Day dreaming about the past.
Like the young boy who was asked out to play, don’t dwell on hurtful memories. Occasionally I still visit places of my childhood. (I’m a sentimental guy). But there’s nothing better than sentimental journeys for keeping you locked in feelings from the past. Be filled with gratitude for the present and sense of being alive today.
3. Keeping secrets.
Don’t keep views and opinions to yourself. Don’t be timid about sharing your thoughts on a topic. As long as you’re not deliberately offensive, your views are valuable. You might help others to think of something they’d not considered before.
Your views are as valid as anyone’s so don’t fear rejection. I’ve often held views back in meetings only to see someone else proffer something similar. Why didn’t I speak up?!
For confidence to flourish you need challenges. It might be a difficult project at work, a level of fitness to achieve or a new hobby.
Without challenges there is no growth and without growth confidence fades.
If you feel nervous about doing something, do it anyway. Challenge yourself or offer some voluntary work in your community. Helping others will help to grow confidence and open new opportunities.
5. Mind reading.
T.V.’s Patrick Jane (aka The Mentalist), said there is no such thing as psychics. No matter how certain you feel, when you try to imagine what someone is thinking, you’ll be wrong. You’ll feel the emotions generated, e.g. anger, and all for nothing. Everyone endures their own self-talk so try to see past their ego to the real person.
6. Burning the candle at both ends.
An old saying to describe someone pushing themselves too much into work.
Lack of planning or prioritising can lead to a loss of quality time at home and poor sleep. If you’re tired you’ll feel vulnerable. Tiredness drains confidence because you don’t have the energy to succeed. Give your mind and body sufficient rest. A clear mind is more receptive to positive thoughts.
The enemy of progress.
If we keep putting off important things in life, we avoid a sense of achievement.
Not contacting a long time friend, letting our health deteriorate or staying in an unhappy job are examples of “not” doing something. Achieving goals on the other hand, nourishes our confidence. So by avoiding success, we avoid some of the opportunities to feel good about ourselves. We all need to feel we make a difference.
Everyone experiences these issues from time to time, at different stages in life. From the high powered executive to the young student.
Start today and believe more in yourself. Have faith in your own opinions and follow your gut instincts. Remember, there is no one right answer to most things.
Ignore your own negative self-talk and act with confidence. These 7 habits are all things we do to ourselves and that means we also have the power to change. All we need to do is decide, right now, to change the way we think.
You could wake up tomorrow knowing yourself a bit better, expecting the usual thoughts but now you’re ready. You’re ready to smile when you think something negative, but it won’t get you down, you’ll just move on.
Are you ready to start overcoming negative self-talk? What other bad habits do you have that create a negative inner voice?
About The Author
This is a guest post by Alan Marsden. He presents simple and effective advice to help you achieve confidence, health, and happiness. Join Alan on the journey of discovery at MindBodyAndTech.