I’ve had my fair share of negative emotions and self-talk over the years with my bipolar and anxiety disorder. It’s been a hard slog working through the negative self-talk and learning how to think positively, but gosh it feels good when you learn how to catch your negative thoughts and turn them into positives.
Negative self-talk is draining and all-consuming. It can tend to make life seem like it’s so bad that the world might come to an end, but really, it’s not that bad at all. More often than not, negative self-talk is completely inaccurate and unreasonable, and when you can catch them, look at them and assess them for what they really are, you might surprise yourself.
Firstly, don’t expect to catch your negative self-talk and deal with it first go; being mindful of your thoughts takes practice. As you practice more and more and start to become more mentally aware of your negative inner critic, you’ll be able to acknowledge your thoughts and write them down.
Look at the negative thoughts, challenge them and ask yourself:
- Are they realistic?
- Are there alternative explanations for your thoughts?
- Can the thoughts be turned into a more reasonable perspective?
Most of the time the answer is yes.
To give you an example, here are some negative thoughts that have popped into my head and I explain how I’ve dealt with them once I caught the thoughts and analysed them as per the questions above.
Positive self-talk examples
|Negative Thought||Is it realistic? Will it help me reach my goals?||Are there alternative explanations?||Can it be put into perspective?|
|I can’t do this; there’s no way I can do well.||I have no evidence that I cannot do it.|
My thought is not based on fact.
It seems I’m jumping to a negative conclusion.
I can’t find out if my thoughts are actually true until I try!
|I could look at this situation as an opportunity to try and learn something new.|
I’m just nervous because I haven’t done this before.
If I were positive, I’d perceive this situation as an opportunity to give something a try, something I might end up being good at.
|I should look at all of the things I have done in the past. It proves I can achieve many things when I put my mind to it, and it almost always works out well in the end. If I focus, ask for advice and learn what I need to, my chances of success will increase. What’s the worst that could happen? I won’t do it as well as I’d hoped and I learn to do it better next time.|
|What if I ask her over for coffee and she finds me boring? I will feel so embarrassed.||I have no evidence that she will find me boring and that things won’t go well.|
My thought is not based on fact.
I’m jumping to a negative conclusion.
I can’t find out if my thoughts are true until after we meet, it’s likely all will go well.
|I’m worried because I don’t have many friends but this is how I will try to make friends.|
If I were positive, I’d think this is a great opportunity to make a new friend and that we will get on like a house on fire.
|I could look at this situation with the view that I’m making a new friend.|
The chances are we will get on well, and that coffee will be quite enjoyable. I’d rather take the risk and see what happens than not do it at all.
What’s the worst that could happen? We don’t have coffee again.
In five years time, this won’t really matter.
Sometimes it takes a little more than turning negative thoughts into positives; it’s how you live your daily life that builds a foundation for an increased positive self-talk. Here are some other things I do that help me think more positively.
I have positive quotes around my home. In my office, I have a memo board on which I update the quote each week. I also have a pack of ‘Infuse Your Life With Energy’ Cards by Donna Byrne, I pick a card each day and really focus on the message. If you follow my Facebook page, you will see that I love to share a quote every day, whether it be a little lighthearted or serious, it makes you stop, think and refocus.
I always try to smile, especially at other people. The number of people I walk past that try to avoid eye contact is so disappointing. It is so uplifting when you can smile at someone and receive one back.
No one is perfect
I always try to remind myself that not everyone is perfect. With social media, in particular, it always seems to be the ‘perfect’ on show, and it can be difficult to get caught in the comparison trap. There is often so much going on behind those perfect images and posts. This is where I find a digital detox helps get rid of a lot of negativity and can help you get back to reality.
Listen to positive music
When I listen to music, I make an effort to really listen to the lyrics. I really dislike music with negative or depressing lyrics. Mr G will hate me saying this, but a lot of the music he listens to, I despise because of this. It makes me feel yuk, so why would I listen to it? Often too, I listen to music without lyrics, music that helps me drift off into positive places and has a calming effect – water trickling, rain, birds, the sounds of the rainforest. Here are some meditation apps I love.
Surround yourself with positive people because their positive energy will brush off on you. Whenever someone is speaking negatively, I usually tune out or try to end the conversation somehow because I know from previous experience, the negativity of another person usually makes me go from feeling reasonably happy to reasonably unhappy. Negativity can be contagious.
Positive thinking books
Almost all of the books and magazines I read have to do with people overcoming hardships in their life to become successful or just plain not giving up on their dream, despite challenges. These help me to think more positively about myself and what I can do in my life to achieve a balanced mindset. Here are some favourites I have read:
I know for a fact that exercise boosts serotonin levels, it’s the feel-good chemical in our body that can help to knock negative self-talk dead. But, I’ve always found it hard to get motivated to exercise when I know the benefits. I’ve decided that I’m going change the way I look at exercise goals and shift my goals away from losing weight or walking 10,000 steps a day to achieving something like running the 5km I used to before my second child or to fit in 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise a few times a week instead of ours.
I know my inner critic will always be there, but my goal has always been to tame that beast, not to let the negative self-talk take over my life which it has done so for quite a long time. It can be debilitating and impact on everything from family, friendships and work life and the silly thing is that none of it is real even though it feels that way. My tip is to be easy on yourself, take your time learning about your thoughts and eventually, you’ll start to understand them and enjoy life a whole lot more.
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