Negative Self Talk and Stress

Last week’s blog “7 Tips to Manage Stress” spoke about recognizing and addressing imagined dangers.  One rather common imagined danger is our negative perception of ourselves.  It reminded of a blog posted almost three years ago.  Here is a revised and slightly updated version of that original post.

train“I’m not smart enough.”  “Someone else can do it better.”  “I’m just going to fail.” “I am so stupid!” “What made me think I could do this?”

When we tell ourselves we can’t do something, we are usually right!  Not because we are not capable, but because we have convinced ourselves that we can’t.

My daughter was the victim of bullying in middle school.  I was shocked and appalled at the cruel things that some of the girls in her school were saying.  I did not understand how anyone could speak to another person that unkindly.  And then one day, I caught myself “being mean” to me.  I was struggling with a project, had missed a deadline and started berating myself for not being smart enough, driven enough, organized enough, blah, blah, blah.  Of course, once I started the negative self-talk it quickly spiralled out of control.  If only I was taller, younger, older prettier … well, you get the picture.

At that point I realized that I had spent way too much time and energy finding fault with myself and instead needed to start giving myself the pep talks I regularly gave my daughter.  I needed to learn how to shut off that negative voice and replace it with positive messaging.

When I was little, I loved the story “The Little Engine that Could” and I realized that story still had significance to me. Instead of chugging along and saying “I think I can, I think I can”, I decided to up the ante a bit and instead chug along and say “I know I can, I know I can.”

Negative self-talk is by far a larger contributor to failure than lack of knowledge or experience.  The next time you find yourself doubting yourself, calling yourself down or focusing on the reasons why you think you can’t … stop …. and toot your own horn.

“What we think, we become.” …  Buddha

2 thoughts on “Negative Self Talk and Stress

  1. How quickly we can get caught up in the spiral of self defeating thought process. It can happen to even the most positive people. The important thing is to realize when this spiral has started and then stopping it.
    I am a firm believer that each day you wake up and have the privilege to make a choice. . . You can choose that you are going to have a great day and make the best of whatever comes your way; or you can choose to set the expectation that it’s yet another day where nothing will go your where.
    Studies in psychology have proven that there is proof in the theory of the self fulfilling prophecy. This is when you tell yourself something and think something enough that you actually make it become a reality. CHOOSE to use this phenomenon to your advantage and use it in a positive way. Don’t tell yourself, “I think I can,” as you are still leaving room for a little bit of doubt. Just as you say Laurie, up the ante and tell yourself “I know I can!” And surround yourself with positive influences and watch the self fulfilling prophecy slowly evolve into reality for the positive.
    Believe you can achieve true happiness everyday!

    • You nailed it Jeff. It really is a choice. We choose our attitude, our words and our thoughts. Some days it is easier to find the positive, but I have learned there is always a positive when we decide to look for it. Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

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