But, you have the power to change your mindset. This is how.
It’s that little voice in your head. Other terms used to describe your stream of consciousness are inner monologue or inner dialogue. Some days it is the angel — it might remind you to water the plants, drink more water, or motivate you with affirmations or compliments. But, that inner critic may also present itself as the little horned son of a bitch, ripping your soul to shreds with reminders of past failures, telling you that you aren’t good enough, or encouraging you to dwell on negative what-if scenarios. Just like the news, we are drawn to focus on the negative self-talk over the good stuff. And that..that can be devastating to your self-esteem and health. What can I say? We are our very worst enemies.
I was talking to my husband about my inner dialogue the other day and decided to ask him about his. “What are you talking about?” He asks. “I don’t have an inner dialogue.” I was dumbfounded. I assumed everyone experienced this in the same way. Come to find out, not everyone has a near-constant monologue streaming in their head like a Netflix binge-watch, like me. “How the hell do you function?” I had to ask.
As it turns out, everyone has some sort of internal monologue to some degree. Some, like me, may stream all day, but others experience it as a series of pictures or in some other abstract way.
Suddenly, so much finally made sense. My anxiety made sense.
I experience a near almost constant dialogue. No, not like a play by play of my actions. It is slightly more complex than that. For instance, I may be driving to pick up my son. On the way there my mind is running rampant, jumping from topic to topic. I’m picking up my son. I hope he had a good day, but what if he didn’t? Those little monsters can be so mean. Then, I run through several scenarios where kids start bullying my son and consider how I would react. I go ahead and concede my title as a terrible mother. Well, none of this is actually based on fact. None of these things actually happened. This is just a mild example of my inner dialogue.
Now, my husband does not think in this way. I suffer from anxiety. My husband does not. Hmm. Thus, I decided to look into it. To my surprise, there is very little research on the topic, but a few studies are reviewed here if you are curious.
What we do know is that our inner dialogue, or self-talk, controls our mood and emotions. It has a profound impact on your identity.
Based on my observation and focus on my own inner dialogue, I’ve come to the conclusion that my inner dialogue is a real bitch, and I’m not having it. It is time to break this bad habit of negative thoughts.
The Effect Negative Thoughts Have On You
Increased mental health risks. If you analyze your inner dialogue and realize you tend to focus on negative self talk it is important to understand this ultimately increases your mental health risks such as helplessness, anxiety, lack of motivation, or depression.
Relationships suffer. Another consequence of negative self-talk affects your relationships. You tend to withdraw due to depressive feelings or social anxiety. Some may even cope by turning to substance abuse.
Physical ailments. Extended bouts of negative self-talk can result in a body riddled with stress. When stress levels increase, stress hormones are released which can cause havoc on your body in a variety of ways such as chronic fatigue and low immune response. This is why those with high-stress levels tend to get sick more often.
How You Curb Negative Self-Talk
Understanding that the voice in your head spewing negative bullshit is frequently irrational is one of the first steps, but here are a few more ways you can curb negative self-talk.
Be more mindful of the words you choose. You might not even realize the different negative tunnels you turn into throughout the day. Pay attention. Only then can you start to change your way of thinking. Write them down if it helps. The quality of your inner speech is critical — positive words generate positive benefits.
Positive affirmations. The power of a positive word or thought is life-changing. If repeated over and over it can change your pattern of thinking and release you from the negative bullshit. Some examples of positive affirmations are:
- I believe in myself.
- I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
- I am the master of my universe.
- I have a healthy, beautiful body.
- I am enough.
- I am in charge of my happiness.
Give it a name. Call it gremlin, demon, or a-hole if you must. Call it whatever gives you a good feeling when you say it. Call it whatever reminds you that these negative thoughts you are having are absolutely ridiculous. Scream it out loud when those thoughts begin to ramble.
You deserve better. We all deserve better, so do yourself a favor and exorcise that demon. Be nice to yourself and give yourself some grace because living this life is hard. You are a rockstar. You are a badass. You are worthy. Stop listening to that negative self-talk and change the tune. You have the power to change your mindset.