Between self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk, we've got a pretty powerful one/two punch to overcome when accomplishing almost anything in life. We really are our own worst critics, and whilst we tend to blame external factors for our lack of successes, much more often than not, we are the ones holding ourselves back. The wonderful realization about this is, though, that like self-limiting beliefs, we hold the power over being able to change how we talk to ourselves -- or at the very least tell that inner voice to pipe down a few notches! Let's explore a few ways we can take back power from that inner voice that keeps trying to hold us down:
Become aware of the inner voice, and its negative speech
Really, the first step in overcoming negative self-talk is to become aware of it. So often, we allow that voice to bring us down, because it's just so.... normal. We're so used to it in the background, that we don't even pay mind to the fact that it's controlling us; however, the power it holds over us very clearly makes its way to the forefront. Awareness that we are self-sabotaging and defeating ourselves is the first step to tackling that negativity.
Don't close doors to negative outcomes, because those doors shut out positive ones too
We fear being embarrassed. We fear trust. We fear failure. Any of these will result in a great deal of negative self-talk, but we will often write it off as 'protecting' ourselves. We tell ourselves we cannot public speak because we'll just embarrass ourselves. We won't trust someone because we've been burned in the past. Because we aren't good enough -- we'll just fail -- why even try? That inner voice so surreptitiously weaves its way into our consciousness, bombarding us with limiting words and phrases. We may believe that we're just keeping ourselves safe from a negative experience -- and that very well may be -- but really, we're eliminating possibility from our lives. If we just give in to that voice telling us, "can't, won't, don't, shouldn't", we eliminate any real possibility to experience things positively moving forward. There is always the possibility that something may go badly, but why should that opportunity to learn something keep us from the possibility of so much positivity?
Challenge that voice to a duel
Once you're aware of that nagging voice in the back of your mind and what it's telling you, really think about what it's saying. Challenge what the voice says about you and your self worth, abilities, or whatever else it's holding you back from. Ask yourself, "Do I really believe this about myself?", or, "Is this really the case?", or even, "Am I just projecting a false belief on others?" Negative self-talk creates so many 'what if?' scenarios in our minds, they can be debilitating. We project how others will see us, how they will react, or what they will think -- so often in a negative way. When our minds default to a worst-case-scenario due to that negative self-talk, doubts, worries, and concerns take over our thoughts, and we forget to think about positive outcomes. We can be fully prepared to give a speech, but if we let that voice in the back of our mind take control, all that preparation will give way to the numerous terrible scenarios we create in our minds. When our focus goes to those places, we will create them in our lives. Don't let that voice rob you of positive experiences -- fight it!
Make the voice something you can easily dismiss
I wish I could claim responsibility for this method, but that goes to the wonderful Brené Brown. How can we take that voice and look past it? Dismiss it like a small annoyance in our lives? Give it a ridiculous name. The method sounds so simple, but it really is effective. If we attribute the voice to a kind of 'person' in our mind, and give it some laughable or ridiculous name, we can more easily take power over it. Alternatively, imagine that inner voice as one that is so laughable that it cannot be taken seriously. That is the real key to this method. The voice has so much power over us as our own, if we give it a name or tone that is so hard to take seriously, we can much more easily tell it to pipe down or go away. This takes a certain level of imagination, for sure, but the simple act of having fun with it will help your confidence, as well as help you realize that those negative thoughts come from a place that does not own you.
These are certainly not the only methods to conquering negative self-talk, but can be a real start to overcoming the difficulty the negative inner voice presents. Once you've found one or more ways to combat negative self-talk, you'll begin to realize that you have power over yourself, and no longer be held back by "what if's" and the potential for negative outcomes.
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