Updated: Jul 21, 2020
“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”
This simple quote by poet Suzy Kassem sums it up. Doubt can be the biggest drain on our own self confidence than most other aspects in life.
Each day we fight the noisy thoughts in our head and for some it can be a constant battle. “Am I good enough?” “This won’t work.” “Why bother.”
Negative self-talk and doubt is the enemy, so let’s look at how we can take on this fight and come out a victor.
What Exactly Is Negative Self-Talk?
Negative self-talk can come in many different forms.
Sometimes it’s as simple and innocent as “What if I look like a fool taking on this project?” through to the downright mean “I’m useless so why bother?”
Negative self-talk can spiral easily from one to the other, creating a snowball effect on our confidence and overall mental health.
The musings of our own inner critic may sound a lot like a critical parent or friend from your past. It can follow the path of typical cognitive distortions such as overgeneralisation, catastrophising, discounting the positive and “should have” statements.
Basically, negative self-talk is any inner dialogue you have with yourself that may be limiting your ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities. It fuels your self-doubt.
Self-doubt is part and parcel of the human experience. As it should be. Yet left unchecked, the fear that fuels our doubt can drive us to be over cautious and keep us from taking the very actions that would help us and serve others.
Simple Ways We Can Ease Self-Doubt
Be your own best friend
When you do notice that you are being overly self-critical, actively stop and remind yourself to change the thought process. Be your own friend and think – would I say this to a loved one or even a child?
Often, we'll say things to ourselves in our heads that we'd never say to a friend. Why not reverse this and—when you catch yourself speaking negatively in your head—make it a point to imagine yourself talking to someone you deeply care about.
Re-frame your thinking
When you do feel self-doubt creeping in, it can sometimes be difficult to force yourself to stop a train of thought in its tracks. It's often far easier to change the intensity of your language and navigate onto a different path.
"I can't stand this" becomes, "This is challenging." "I hate..." becomes, "I don't like..." and even, "I don't prefer..." When your self-talk uses more gentle language, much of its negative power can be diluted.
Talk out loud
Sometimes when you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts in your mind, simply saying them out loud can help – as silly as that can sound.
Imagine how you would sound if you were explaining your thoughts in an open conversation with a stranger – do you think you might sound ridiculous? Probably.
Try saying some negative self-talk phrases around under your breath to remind yourself how unreasonable and unrealistic they sound.
Question yourself – detective time!
Thinking negative things might feel real to you, but your thoughts and feelings about yourself can definitely not be as accurate as you might believe.
One of the damaging aspects of negative self-talk is that it often goes unchallenged. After all, if it's going on in your head, others may not be aware of what you're saying to yourself.
When you feel yourself walking internally down that path – stop – think – and question, “Am I being reasonable?”
It's far better to catch your negative self-talk and ask yourself how true it is. The vast majority of negative self-talk is an exaggeration and challenging yourself on this can help to take away its damaging influence. Look at a little deeper and cross-examine why you may be feeling that way.
Negative self-talk is something that can never truly be avoided, it’s up to us as individuals to develop our own strategies and tactics to challenge and cope. If you feel like all you are surrounded with is self-doubt, get in touch with us today and let’s work on those strategies together!