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The One To Zen Organizing Blog

Breathe in Calm, Breathe out Clutter

  • Writer's pictureJill Katz

Negative Self Talk: How To Overcome The Negative Voices In Our Head


Woman putting hands on each side of her face and head and grimacing

The Story


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.


What else?


Woman smiling and looking in the mirror
Everything is always working out for me

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.”


Now What?

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.”


In Conclusion


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.


7 Comments


julie
Jul 12, 2022

I have my daughter who always points out my negative self talk. It has helped me to do less. When I hear the negativism I stop and have a chat with myself to say whats happening to make me say this, analyze the situation and ressure myself I can accomplish the task. I love the questions:

Is it true?


Is it helpful?


Is it kind?

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Janet Barclay
Janet Barclay
Jul 12, 2022

I am definitely guilty of negative self-talk. One thing I often hear in my head is "I can't do math in my head." I've proven it true far too often, so I'm not sure how to convince myself otherwise!

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Jul 13, 2022
Replying to

Janet,

I also have a "Math thing" even though it's probably not true. I do find that when we experience successes it puts our overthinking into perspective. We just have to remind ourselves of these past successes and let rational thoughts reign.

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Julie Bestry
Julie Bestry
Jul 12, 2022

I fully recognize that I am lucky that I don't generally suffer from negative self-talk, and it makes me cringe when someone I care about is prone to it. I joke with my best friend that between her minimal self-esteem (with related negative self-talk) and my overhyped self-esteem (with only neutral or positive self-talk), we make up one average mentally healthy person. ;-) The points you make are absolutely apt. I think some people incorporate the negative talk they heard from others growing up; other people fear seeming arrogant and they protectively cover with negative self-talk until it stops being performative and starts being ingrained. Either way, Acuff's popularization of true/helpful/kind, as you've laid out, is particularly helpful for helping people…

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Jul 13, 2022
Replying to

Julie,

I love that you don't suffer negative self-talk (and maybe a bit jealous). You are my new hero! What a great point about how we might be raised to feel the need to point out our flaws (think Mean Girls and "I have man-shoulders" ) until the negative talk is ingrained.

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Janet Gorman Schiesl
Janet Gorman Schiesl
Jul 11, 2022

I try to change a negative script into a positive script. I don't like to talk in front of a group - definitely imposter syndrome happening. I try to change the negative script into a positive one. I know now that I just need to know a little bit more than the people in the audience and that most people who are there to hear me speak want me to succeed. They are routing for me. So I really can't lose.

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Jul 13, 2022
Replying to

Janet,

Yes- you are a winner! What a great idea to flip the script and remind yourself that people want you to succeed. I'm a people-pleaser so that one would work well for me.

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