Here’s some common, really unhealthy ways people talk to themselves. Do they look familiar?
- “I’m worthless/stupid”
- “I’ll always be alone”
- “I don’t matter”
- “I’m an idiot for thinking I could do this”
- “I’ll never get over it”, “I am too damaged”
- “I need drugs/games to numb the pain”
Those thinking patterns are damaging. They’re a mindset that can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Noteworthy-human Frank Outlaw wrote:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
In other words, your thoughts are the foundation of your character. Unless you want to be a dumbass, please stop calling yourself one. I know it’s harder than it sounds but it’s actively unhelpful. Here are 3 of my favorite rethinking tools.
#1 – Notice and Reject the Source
Where do these thoughts come from?
If it’s from the present, can this person be believed? Do they have flaws or blind spots in their perspective? Do they have all the information? Do they have an agenda? How do those things impact what they’re saying to you? Does this person care about you?
If it’s from the past, can those people or words be believed? Were they abusers, narcissists, or regular old shitty people? We learn all about inner talk from our childhood caregivers, remember.
Would you say those things to somebody you care about? How about a scared child, fragile teenager, or emotionally overwhelmed friend?
You don’t have to understand why somebody behaves the way they do. You may never know and it honestly won’t help. Focus on noticing your negative self-talk, finding its source, and undermining it’s argument.
#2 – Praise Yourself
Decades of research show that positive reinforcement drives growth. It’s the opposite of beating yourself up or putting yourself down, neither of which can make you feel better.
Try this. Every night in bed before you go to sleep, take a moment. Find 3 things you did right that day and give yourself a mental high 5. Living with this shit isn’t easy, doing the work is hard, and even getting up some days can be a huge challenge. Take pride in yourself.
In dissociative disorders it can be helpful to call out specific parts and their collaborative efforts too. It might take longer, but everybody on the team benefits when you celebrate the work you’re doing together.
#3 – What’s the Real Impact?
When you’re talking to yourself, black and white thinking is totally normal. It feels like all or nothing. Win or loss. Good or bad. Being so polarizing can make it hard to think clearly.
It’s important to take a step back and put the situation in context. What were the actual consequences of the situation? Depressing predictions about the future don’t help.
Phrases like “I never” or “I always” are red flags that your thinking is negative, and needs a reset.
Talk to yourself with respect and support.
It takes practice. None of this comes easy when you’ve only learned how to hate on yourself. Don’t accept your unhealthy self-talk, challenge it, and speak to yourself with the love you deserve.
Try these, and if they don’t help, try more. The internet has hundreds of rethinking tools you can learn and practice.
Take care of yourselves out there 😉