Telling someone to be nice to themselves seems simple enough, but being kind to yourself can feel challenging when your internal dialogue is negatively focused. The concept of self-talk is pretty straightforward; it is how you talk to yourself. You might be thinking, “I don’t talk to myself,” but if you thought that, then you have just experienced your own self-talk! Your self-talk is your inner chatter – the thoughts you have throughout the day.
Our thoughts greatly impact the way we feel, so it is critical to learn more about your habits around thinking if you want to truly take control of your life. You can cultivate an inner cheerleader, or you may feel that your worst enemy exists inside your head. Your thoughts can be the difference between living in your own personal hell or experiencing a joyful life.
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Changing habits is a process, and if you have been engaging in negative self-talk for a long time, it may not be as simple as just changing the way you are thinking. You may need to develop insight into what purpose those thoughts are serving for you and assess your level of investment in your negative self-talk. Therapy can provide a safe space to explore the nature of your self-talk.
You may be wondering why someone would feel attached to engaging in negative self-talk. Here are some reasons:
-You feel that your negativity motivates you. By being hard on yourself, you believe this helps you to work harder. The problem with this is that, no matter what you do, it is never enough for the negative self-talk. If you can develop supportive self-talk, you will likely find that this is a kinder, more effective way to motivate yourself.
-You believe you deserve to talk to yourself this way. If this is true for you, find a therapist that you trust to help you unpack this and safely challenge destructive beliefs that you hold about yourself. Understanding how your specific experiences in life have led to feeling unworthy of kindness will help you on your path to a better relationship with yourself. If you feel attached to the negative thoughts because you believe them, then it is essential to get to the root of those beliefs if you want to create a positive shift in your thinking.
-It feels familiar/it seems hard to change. Even though negative self-talk is painful, if you have been in the habit of talking to yourself this way for most of your life, you may barely notice it happening. Making changes in our lives involves an element of risk taking – you already know how things go for you when you are being mean to yourself, and even if it is not ideal, it may feel predictable, and predictability can feel safe. Learning to change your thought patterns will require you to venture outside of what feels familiar to you and will require a commitment to yourself.
Sarah Tronco, LCSW, provides online counseling in New Jersey and works to develop a strong therapeutic relationship with her clients, which helps to create a secure place where individuals can achieve meaningful change.
Sarah Tronco, LCSW, now also provides Online Counseling in Pennsylvania, contact her to learn more.
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