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Seven Questions To Help Quiet Negative Self-Talk

Jun 20, 2008
Negative self-talk is the flip-side of criticism. One is self-perpetuated, while the other is usually unsolicited and unwelcome. Both lead to erosion of self-esteem and personal worth.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to control negative words that come from the mouths of others. It is possible, however, to recognize a behaviour pattern of negative self-talk and make positive changes.

The first step to positive change in any situation is to identify patterns that are destructive. This is especially true when it comes to negative self-talk. Negative self-talk is irrational, but sounds truthful in the mind of the person engaging in it.

People who suffer from anxiety, depression or stress are frequently unaware of negative self-talk habits. A person may simply find himself in a state of perpetual avoidance. A person in this state takes fewer risks, often out of fear of being rejected. He may shy away from social situations, avoid friends and eventually be afraid to leave the house.

Sometimes a person sabotages relationships in an effort to keep from being hurt. Eventually a vicious circle ensues. This leads to avoidance of situations that may lead to rejection. The more a person perpetuates avoidance, the more he engages in negative self-talk. This ultimately results in a severe battering on self-esteem.

People dealing with these issues share some common traits. Those who recognize one or more of the following tendencies or characteristics may be suffering from anxiety related to negative self-talk:

* Loved ones and close friends have pointed out a problem. Those closest to us sometimes see us better than we see ourselves. If someone you love and trust is concerned about your mental health, take it to heart. Don't be offended. Instead, recognize it as their way of trying to help you help yourself.

* Frequent panic attacks. Panic attacks can be scary, especially if you've never had one before. Sometimes people who suffer from panic attacks mistake them for heart attacks or other physical illnesses. Panic attacks are very real, physiological responses to stress. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, chest tightness, sweatiness in the palms and even nervous twitches or tics. A panic attack in and of itself is not harmful; however, it does indicate a deeper problem.

* Other physical symptoms. Headaches and nausea may be related to anxiety. Do you experience these at the prospect of a social situation or prior to an event such as flying in an airplane? This may be indicative of deeper issues.If you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, you are not alone. Weigh your thoughts against these seven Socratic questions:

1. What is the evidence for this feeling?

2. Is this always true?

3. Has this been true in the past?

4. What are the odds of this outcome really occurring or being true?

5. What is the very worst that could happen?

6. Am I looking at the whole picture?

7. Am I being fully objective?

The validity of your negative self-talk has nothing to do with how attached you are to the statements or how ingrained they might be. Rather, it has to do with whether they stand up under careful, objective scrutiny. Applying these seven questions to potentially stressful situations can help you more objectively evaluate your misgivings. Eventually, you may be able to weed out negative self-talk altogether.
About the Author
Liz Labrum, Master NLP and hypnosis practitioner, teaches business owners and executives how to turnaround stress.
Visit www.think-rightnow.com and complete the free assessment Are you suffering from Burn Out?
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