Why Negative Self-Talk Is Killing Your Motivation And What To Do About It.

“You’re so stupid! You can’t do anything right. Why are you so clumsy!” Sound familiar? Would you ever bash your friend like this?  So, why do we talk to ourselves like this?

Contrary to popular belief, talking to yourself or self-talk, doesn’t make you crazy; it’s just part of being human.

The voices in your head all start in childhood. Remember the days when you played with blocks in your room talking to yourself about how you’re going to build the biggest house anyone has ever seen. You talked to your stuffed animals and pets and told them how you’re all going to live together in your 3-foot creation. Yeah, that’s normal.

Boywithtoys

Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”. Self-talk can boost your confidence and motivation. Giving yourself a pep-talk before taking an exam, giving a presentation or asking someone on a date can really enhance the success of those experiences.

Want to know a secret to an athlete’s success? Talking to themselves! Literally, saying, “I can do this” boosts motivation and therefore performance.

Watch any Olympic sporting event and you can see athletes prepping by visualizing and talking themselves through their routines.

Swimmers

As you get older, talking out loud to ourselves is reduced to, “Ah, crap, I forgot my keys!” or other pretty harmless statements. However, it can be detrimental when it turns negative.

We all experience negative self-talk at some point in our lives; but if it’s dominating your private speech, it’s snuffing your motivation. Thankfully, that negative voice in you head doesn’t have to live there forever!

So, how can you identify negative self-talk and change its speech so that it’s working in your favor?

Here are three strategies to help overcome negative self-talk taken from findings in neuroscience research and an ancient spiritual practice.

1.)  Increase your awareness of negative self-talk using meditation. Meditation is a powerful tool to increase presence, or being in the moment.

Action Step: Before you go to bed tonight, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and spend 15 minutes (set a timer) paying attention to the thoughts that go through your mind.  Just let them come and go without judging them.  Just listen to the “voices in your head” like you would genuinely listen to a close friend.

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2.)  Replace it! Once you’ve identified the negative self-talk in your day-to-day life with increased awareness, replace it with words of support and encouragement.

Action Step: The next time you hear the nasty voice in your head piping up, STOP it and replace it with up building self-talk. Just imagine giving a pep talk to your best friend.

Cease all Motion

3.) Practice Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM): This literally changed my life! I went from being a very bitter and resentful person filled with negative self-talk to someone who felt more present and empowered in each moment. Neuroscience and psychology research done on those who have practiced LKM regularly has been shown to reduce stress and strengthen social relationships and literally changes certain regions in the brain associated with empathy.  You can literally re-wire your brain with this practice over time to develop the skills that enhance happiness and compassion.  Try it!

Action Step: Send blessings of loving kindness to 4 people in your life every day. Pick 1 person you love, 1 person you can’t stand (those people need compassion too!), 1 person who is a stranger (like someone you walked passed on the street), and yourself.  Focus on each person individually and wish that person love, happiness, and peace…you get it. Just wish them good things. You can do this for 10 minutes before your go to bed or even during a busy day.  It’s particularly helpful in banishing the negative voice in your head when you feel wronged by someone (ex. getting cut off in traffic).

An example of Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM)

An example of Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM)

When that familiar nagging voice gets in your head, your first reaction may be to listen to it and go down the rabbit hole of your negative story line. Just remember, you have a choice to listen to that voice or to create a strong, more powerful voice within yourself. It takes daily practice and you have everything you need within you right now to make it happen. It literally changes your brain and your life!

Positive Self-Talk

Continue the conversation!  I want to hear how changing your inner dialogue has affected your life.  What strategies do you use to counter negative self-talk?