Waking up amid social media’s current “mean girl” drama featuring a few of everyone’s faves – looking at you Hailey and Kylie – has us thinking about the concept of “mean girls” and how they seem to follow us, even as we’ve aged out of our high school years. Because, no matter how old we get, one thing we can all agree on is that nobody likes a meanie.
Alexa, play Big Weenie by Eminem.
But, what happens when the mean girl in question is actually you. The target in question? Yourself.
And why does it feel like second nature to want to protect those around us that are being victimized by their own personal “meanie,” but we take every opportunity to be super harsh or critical with ourselves?
Let’s take a look at negative self-talk, why we do it, and how to stop that shit!
what even is self-talk?
Self-talk, in general, can essentially be described as our inner voice or monologue. It’s a culmination of our conscious thoughts and beliefs, how we view the world, and of course, how we view ourselves. It’s like the narrator of our own personal reality show. Except we can’t change the channel, so we’re always tuned in.
That said, it’s easy to understand why having self-talk that’s positive and uplifting can be super beneficial to things like mood, outlook, and even our mental health.
In fact, research suggests that having thoughts that are generally more positive can also have physical benefits, such as better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from infections, cancer, and respiratory conditions.
But, again – positive thinking often starts with… you guessed it; self-talk.
Okay, so we know what you’re thinking – what about when shit isn’t all sunshine and rainbow unicorn Frappuccinos? We hear you. Let’s take a look at when self-talk is not so nice…
recognizing negative self-talk
Now, by no means are we saying that you should be ignoring all things negative in life to remain optimistic. Because let’s face it – sometimes shit gets real and we have to face it head-on. But, we have to be able to identify when we are hyper-focused on thinking negatively about a situation.
Here are 4 ways negative self-talk can manifest itself in most of us:
- Personalizing – is when you feel the need to take the blame for pretty much any negative occurrence you experience. This is someone who chronically faults themselves when something bad happens, even when it’s outside of their control.
For example, let’s say you and your BFF have dinner plans Friday night, but she texts you the morning of and says that she can’t make it anymore. Personalizing this situation would be immediately having the thought, “omg, she must be mad at me. What did I do wrong?”
Jumping to the conclusion that her needing to cancel has everything to do with you, despite having zero evidence or confirmation from her that this is true, is negative self-talk at work.
If this sounds like you, the next time this happens, stop for a second to try and be rational about the situation. Take a breath and try to re-center. If it hasn’t already been established that something is actually your fault, don’t feel obligated to automatically take responsibility.
- Catastrophizing – is when you automatically assume the worst, before it even happens. You spill your Starbs on the way to work and immediately think, “oh, great – this day’s already gone to shit.”
Like, yes it’s obviously sucky, but it doesn’t mean that now you’re inevitably going to have a terrible day. It’s almost sickeningly cliché, but try to look on the bright side of things. At least it didn’t get all over your clothes. And even if it did, at least it was iced – a hot coffee could have potentially burned you.
There’s always an upside when it comes to things like this.
- Polarizing – is when you only see something as good or bad. No middle ground, no in-between. Things are either perfect or they’re a complete mess. This can obviously be problematic because it has the potential to take minor inconveniences and make them bigger than what they are.
In these instances, you really want to allow yourself some grace. If something doesn’t go perfectly, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically bad. We might over or underdress for an event, or snooze the alarm one too many times, or take the wrong train and need to transfer – treat yourself with kindness through it all.
- Filtering – is when you emphasize the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive. For example, you knock out 5 out of the 6 items on your Monday to-do list, but instead of acknowledging or celebrating such great progress, you dwell on the task that remains unfinished.
Many of us may be guilty of this one, actually. In today’s hyper-achievement-focused society, it’s easy to feel like we’re just not doing enough, even when our plates are way past full.
practicing positive self-talk
Practice makes perfect and rewiring yourself to take on a more positive approach to self-talk is no different. Make an effort to identify when you feel yourself spiraling and stop it dead in its tracks. Take a breath and revise.
As always, one of our favorite ways to mentally shift gears is through affirmations. Getting into the habit of positively affirming as part of your daily routine can really swing that pendulum when it comes to correcting something like negative self-talk.
Try starting your mornings with uplifting statements like:
- I am confident.
- I am loved.
- I am getting better every single day.
- I am independent and self-sufficient.
- My life is full of abundance, everywhere I look.
- I choose to be happy.
Saturating your brain with statements like these makes for a much more positive outlook on life. It’s a great place to start.
And always remember to celebrate your small wins, because life is full of them.