You may be conscious of the inner voice that runs a monologue in your head throughout the day – your self-talk. This combination of conscious thoughts and unconscious beliefs and biases provide our brain the ability to interpret and process our everyday experiences.
Our self-talk can be cheerful and supportive or negative and self-diminishing. It can be beneficial when positive, calming our fears and boosting our confidence. When engaging in negative self-talk, we are prone to beating ourselves down with statements like “I’m a failure” or “I can’t do anything right.” Blessing Fitzgerald, LCSW and Clinical Services Supervisor at Diversus Health, states, “Oftentimes, negative self-talk starts out harmless and inconsequential. Over time, it creates an identity within our psyche that is not fully based on facts yet feels true and real; translating our inner experience into outer behaviors.”
Focusing on our fears, intimidations, threats, or doubts can take a toll on our confidence, while fostering shame and stunting our personal growth. This can be paralyzing and lead to self-absorption and inaction, causing us to convince ourselves that we can never get better. This can be detrimental, especially for those of us with anxiety and depression, who frequently experience destructive or dysfunctional self-talk and incessant internal chatter. “The narrative we develop as part of our internal dialogue is important because we often look to our environment to find evidence that confirms our underlying narrative,” says Fitzgerald.
How to Make Our Self-Talk Beneficial
Pay attention to your self-talk and monitor it. It can be easy to tolerate our self-talk when we are critical or second-guessing ourselves. However, when we dwell in the negative, we can become less successful at coming up with creative solutions for problems and situations by talking ourselves out of our ideas. To make our self-talk beneficial, we can correct our inner monologue to stay focused on bringing ourselves up rather than tearing ourselves down.
Becoming consciously aware of the role our self-talk plays in our daily lives is a great first step to changing our internal monologue for the better. We can challenge our self-talk by rehearsing a more constructive inner voice that focuses on positive tones and addresses us by name. When we attempt to distance ourselves from the emotional intensity of the self, we have a better chance of avoiding ruminating thoughts, as well as gain a greater perspective of our situations, staying calm, and maintaining our confidence.
Another effective approach to silencing our inner critic can be implementing a practice of self-transcendence. This is the idea that we can shift our focus away from ourselves and take on the perspective of others or the world at large. When we apply this approach, we are more likely to ignore or tune out our self-criticism to become more patient, self-compassionate, and open to improving ourselves, as well as accept help from others.
The best self-talk focuses on our ability to thrive, not just survive. We can motivate ourselves to achieve our goals, while taking a broader look at the good in our lives and the positives present in our opportunities. When we focus on moments that bring us joy and happiness, we boost our internal well-being and support our successes. In order to overcome our toxic self-talk, we need to pay attention to our thoughts and catch ourselves when we slip into negative territory. When we detect negativity, we should challenge ourselves to consider whether our internal monologue is true, then replace hyperbolized thoughts with more realistic statements that move us toward self-acceptance and confidence.
To learn more about practicing self-compassion, check out A Simple Practice for Self-Compassion on our Diversus Health blog.
These are trying times. If you or a loved one is suffering, contact us to book an appointment. If you need to talk to someone immediately, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.