Do you talk to yourself?
Self-talk is a habitual process we all go through. Sometimes, we talk to ourselves nicely, sometimes we don’t. I’ll be willing to bet that everyone experiences some form of negative self-talk some of the time.
If this gets out of hand, you might actually experience lower levels of productivity and energy, and possibly depression.
So in order to kick start a new habit, you need a couple of things.
#1 – what is the source of negative thinking?
If you experience the negative thought as an imaginary voice in your mind telling you that you can’t do something (such as your father/mother/boss, etc), then you might have to go one step beyond just the verbalized message. What is the reason they might say that? Perhaps they are worried for you, or that you could get hurt. By exploring their highest positive intention, you will soon get to the root of the issue and begin to diffuse the negative thought. Once you discover this, repeat in your mind “They only want me to ____” and fill that blank with their positive intent.
#2 – What replacement habit do you want?
We all know that negative thinking is a cycle of habit. If you have negative thoughts, it could be because you’ve turned it into a habit. One of my students had been trained to think negative simply because he felt it was the requirement of his job. He started by believing that he had to always think of the worst case scenario in his job as a quality assurance manager. However, this habit started to eat away at lots of other things in his life including his family, and his family members sometimes just wanted comfort and understanding, not a troubleshooter.
So eventually he learned how to differentiate the need for building a contingency for things on the job versus really listening to people.
To do this, you can frame up your experience by focusing fully on the mental context. When does negative thinking come up when it’s not useful? Now, in that context, choose specifically what you would like to think instead. I’d suggest that you pick up an NLP Practitioner program to discover the various ways to do this (you can do this by registering on the list on the top left on the blog).
#3 – Does negative thinking stop you from taking action?
A lot of my clients and students tell me that they just can’t do anything once they get into a spiral of negative thought. Here’s a simple technique I found works.
For the longest time, I had been procrastinating exercising because I would effectively talk myself out of it. Whenever I am already dressed to go for a run, I could talk myself into eating or playing a computer game. Unfortunately, this caused a lot of problems for my exercise routine. So I realized that the best way to stop procrastinating was to stop that inner voice. When we need to make a decision, an effective strategy occurs when the thing to be done is acted upon, not “thought” about. Test it out – once you have a mental trigger about what to do, use that to get into action, not talk to yourself. You’ll then find there’s no need to even eliminate negative thinking because you won’t have the mental space for it in the first place!