Negative Self Talk: How To Overcome The Negative Voices In Our Head
My name is Jill Katz. I am a Professional Organizer and I get in my own way. There, I said it.
One moment I am moving through my day feeling great: wonderful, capable, unstoppable even… But then a new situation arises, from planning a party for a family member to speaking in front of a group, and THE VOICE pipes in.
THE VOICE might say “Who do you think you are, you can’t do this.”
Or THE VOICE might say, “You need to know X, Y, and Z before you can possibly begin to take that on.” And, too many times to count, I listen to this voice. I believe the message, and I abandon my goal.
THE VOICE is the negative self-talk in my head that tells me I am not good enough or that causes me to overthink a situation until I am too tired to confront it. And I know I’m not the only one to hear a voice like that.
How do I know? Because THE VOICE is why many of my clients have lived for years with their clutter. It whispers knowingly, “You can’t possibly tackle this.” Or “You need to know how to do this perfectly or don’t even bother.” THE VOICE just loves saying, “You are not worthy of a calm space.”
Identifying Our Negative Scripts
So how can we overcome this negative self-talk? Recently, I read a book called Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff. In the book, the author challenges us to recognize when THE VOICE is in our head (calling it THE VOICE is my special terminology) by asking 3 questions about what THE VOICE says:
Is it true?
Is it helpful?
Is it kind?
Ask these 3 questions about the message in your head. If the answer to any of them is “no,” then you have identified a negative script that is holding you back in your life.
You might think that because a message is true you have to listen to it. But consider this statement:
“I am not good at math”
Suppose this statement is true; you are not great at math. OK, but it isn’t helpful to tell this to yourself if you are pursuing a degree and you need to pass a statistics course to finish. The statement also isn’t kind. You would never tell a friend who is taking a statistics course “Don’t bother, you aren’t good at math.” This is a negative script that will only serve to prevent you from attaining your goals.
Acuff suggests that we should also practice saying a self-affirmation for 30 days in the morning and at night in front of a mirror. Here are a couple of excerpts from the self-affirmation:
“I know that doing my best starts with thinking my best”
“I’ve got a gift worth giving”
“I am my biggest fan”
Do you think this is crazy? So did I… but I tried it and it really works! If saying several paragraphs is too big a step for you, start with a mantra. For example, “I am enough” or “I am worthy of happiness” or “I can do this.”
Once you can identify a negative script and are practicing self-affirmations, Acuff also recommends substituting your negative scripts with positive ones. Look for sayings that resonate with you. For example, I love:
“Perfection is the enemy of the good.”
Let me know in the comments below (scroll down to the bottom) if you have tried any of the above methods or if you have your own strategy to cut through the negative voices in your head.