Do you pay attention to everything your mind tells you? Our minds can take us on a wild goose ride with all the “What if’s” and “I should have’s.” The mind is the main cause of the “Worrier” in us and is the culprit for our automatic tendency to “beat ourselves up” at the first sign of problems.
Psychologists believe we have between 60,000-70,000 thoughts a day and approximately 80% of those thoughts are negative or self-damaging. Negative thoughts have been developing in our subconscious for years, often stemming from incidences in our lives when we were “put down” or criticized.
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In fact, until you actively try to identify these negative thoughts, you’re probably not even aware they’re there. Negative thinking starts from childhood. It’s hard to realize how negative self-talk can be detrimental to your self-esteem, self-concept, and confidence when it’s so automatic.
For instance, if something happens that doesn’t turn out the way you expected, the automatic negative thoughts could be, “I’m so stupid. I should have known better.”
Habitually thinking negatively or “beating yourself up” results in the real belief that you’re “not good enough,” stupid, or can’t do anything right. With negative thinking, you’ve probably settled for less and compromised your integrity more times than you prefer to remember. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to feel confident and successful when you’re constantly “beating yourself down.”
A good way to stop thinking negatively is to consciously identify your negative thoughts, then actively replace negative thinking with realistic thinking or self-soothing thoughts by reminding yourself that “Everything’s going to be ok- I can do this” or “I can get through this.” Try to remember specific situations in the past when you did make it through difficulties times, despite feeling like it was impossible at the time. Doing this will build your confidence and self-esteem and is a great tool to counter negative thinking.
Once you have identified your negative thoughts, write them down. Seeing them in black and white can really be “an eye opener” and bring new found awareness to how damaging negative thinking really is.
Erase the negatives. Take a black marker and draw a thick line through all the negative self-talk you’ve written down.
Replace the negative self-talk with a positive version. For example, if your negative thought was "I am hopeless at managing my employees" write the exact opposite, "I’m really good at managing my employees."
If you believe your positive self-talk just isn't true, remember that your negative self-talk probably wasn't true either. Negative self-talk became so powerful because you automatically thought negatively so many times throughout your life, consciously or subconsciously, that you came to believe the negativity a little more everyday.
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The same principle applies to your new positive self-talk. Positive affirmations like, "Everyday, I’m becoming a better person in every way" can have a strong impact on building your self-esteem.
Repeat your positive-self talk daily. Write your affirmations on index cards or post-it notes and stick them to your keyboard, computer monitor, refrigerator, mirrors, bedside table- anywhere and everywhere you can. The more you see them, the more you’ll say them to yourself, and the more they’ll become ingrained in your mind. The negativity and tendency to “beat yourself up” will be less and less likely… until one day, you really will feel confident about who you are.