“You have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~Louise Hay
If we talked to our friends and loved ones the way we speak to ourselves, they wouldn’t want to be in our company. Most people say incredibly mean, critical, and hurtful things to themselves.
Why are we so often cruel to ourselves? Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our beliefs form the basis of our self-talk. And our beliefs are often formed at an early age from interactions with parents, siblings, teachers, clergy, and others. While some beliefs are helpful, others can be very damaging to our self-esteem.
Unfortunately, these negative beliefs can keep us stuck and prevent the chances of inner kindness.
Let’s take a deeper look at changing beliefs and self-talk.
Pay Attention to Triggers
The first step to stopping negative self-talk is figuring out what triggers these negative beliefs. Albert Ellis called these triggers “activating events.” These can come from everyday events that happen to us or around us. Anything from being yelled at by your boss, traffic jams, to a coworker getting an award can be an activating event, for example.
Additional triggers can also be personal and unique to your life. These are sometimes referred to as “red flags.” Red flags are issues that pertain to you alone, such as your history, weight, family, and close relationships, integrity, and anything else that you deem sacred. When these issues get raised, they immediately set off an alarm inside and can trigger unhelpful beliefs.
Identify Unhelpful Beliefs
These unhelpful beliefs are the real culprits behind why we get upset or angry at the triggers we’ve just experienced. According to Albert Ellis, it’s not the trigger itself, but the beliefs that cause the negative self-talk.
Ellis claimed that irrational beliefs are responsible for our emotional states. When we identify and change these beliefs, we can experience fewer unhelpful emotional reactions.
For example, let’s look at this process:
- You just learned that you got turned down for a promotion at work.
- Getting turned down for the promotion is the activating event or trigger.
- The underlying thoughts or irrational beliefs you might be having include, “I’m never going to advance my career,” “I’m a failure,” “My boss hates me,” or even “My boss is never fair to me.”
- These beliefs or thoughts can lead to feeling sad, depressed or angry. And these emotions can trigger a limiting, harmful, and destructive litany of self-talk.
Dispute Irrational Beliefs
When we can identify these negative, irrational beliefs we can do something to change them. You can change them by challenging these beliefs. Examine the truth, look at reality, and see that it is different from your belief.
We can ask ourselves questions to help us distinguish reality from these irrational beliefs. Try asking questions that are opposite of your identified beliefs.
Some of these challenge questions may be:
- What is the truth in this situation?
- What’s the evidence to support that my current beliefs are true?
- In the example above: Are there times when I have been successful and achieved my goals? Are there times when my boss has been fair?
- Is it true that I’ll never advance in my career, or is this just a minor setback?
These questions can help you identify the truth from what you may erroneously believe or negatively think about a situation.
- Identify your feelings. Where in your body do you feel it?
- Accept your feelings, but seek the truth.
- Question and replace your old truths with new ones. Back them up with facts, reasoning, and trust that this is the real truth.
- Repeat the new “truth” back to yourself.
- Do something constructive with these good thoughts.
- If you are still feeling stuck, reach out, and contact me for a self-talk strategy consultation.
Identifying the truth can help you think differently and avoid suffering the emotional reactions of the trigger in the first place.
Follow this process whenever you notice thoughts that are unkind to you. Change your beliefs, and you’ll find your self-talk becoming words of encouragement instead. #youcandoit
Need help and support in changing your self-talk? Reach out now, and receive your free consult. Be empowered-gain-control of your life.
Peak Performance Mind Coach, Hypnotherapist, NLP Master, Author, Trainer, Fitness Trainer
(206) 459-2898, firstname.lastname@example.org
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