15 Oct

Negative self-talk is that little voice in your head you probably don't even realize is there most of the time. It is like that old cartoon you see where the person has a "good" angel on one shoulder, encouraging them and saying positive things. On the other shoulder is a "bad" angel, telling them how stupid they are, how no one cares, or how they will never be good enough.

Sound familiar? We all have heard that little voice at one time or another. Perhaps it's having to give a presentation at school or work, maybe it's looking up at that stage, wanting to be on it, but the nerves just keep you sitting quietly in your seat. What about when you mess up and it seems like nothing else you do the rest of the day will go right. Everything is ruined and it's. all. your. fault.

Do you have something that comes to mind? Was it today? Yesterday? Maybe it started years ago, and it just never seems like it stopped. 

I first read about Negative Self-Talk in a book by Edmund Bourne, PsyD.: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. Dr. Bourne categorized four main types of negative self-talk. This is just a summary, but read through these and see if any jump out at you:

1. The Worrier: "What if?" thinking. Imaging the worst-case scenarios. What if I screw up? What if they don't like it? What if it rains? What if the car breaks down?

2. The Critic: Being too hard on yourself. Focusing on the one bad thing and ignoring the several positive thing. I didn't get an A on the test, I'm stupid. Everyone else can do it, nobody will care if I don't.  

3. The Victim: Destined to fail: I can't do anything right. I always screw up. I don't know how to do it.

4. The Perfectionist: Not able to accept minor imperfections. This wedding has to be perfect! Everyone will know. 

What thoughts come to your mind? Do they fall in to one of the above categories? Identifying and putting a label on your thoughts is helpful in learning how to recognize these patterns and begin to confront their reality. 

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