Most of us spend a lot of time in our own heads.
"I really bombed that..."
"I'm not cut out for..."
"Everyone thinks I'm..."
What do most negative self-talk statements have in common?
They are normal. As selfish humans, most of us spend far more time thinking about ourselves than of others...and many of those thoughts aren't very positive.
They are likely exaggerated or simply untrue. We often take our self-talk at face value. The problem? We may be wrong or blowing things way out of proportion.
They are usually unhelpful or even damaging. Think about it. Yes, reflection is a valuable tool. However, re-playing an endless loop of negative thoughts isn't doing you any good.
It's true what they say. Sometimes the thing getting in your way is you. Next time you get caught up in your own head, work through three simple questions.
Question 1: Is this thought true? Can I prove it?
This question pulls us back to reality. Really spend some time digging into this one. Is that negative thought in your head even true? What data are you going off of? What are the facts you need to remind yourself of? Anchor in truth. If you aren't sure, it might help to bounce your thoughts off of a friend to seek their outside perspective.
Question 2: What impact is this thought having on me? On others?
This holds us accountable for the impact of our thoughts and provides some motivation for getting out of our heads. Are your worrisome thoughts preventing you from taking an action you know you need to take? Is replaying that conversation from this morning causing your confidence to plummet or preventing you from being present with your family this evening? If so, it's time to shut those thoughts down.
Question 3: What is my role in this? What do I need to do, given this thought?
This pulls us toward something actionable. Sometimes our negative self-talk is actually healthy reflection that needs to convert into action. We all mess up from time to time (most of us mess up a lot). Your negative self-talk may be fully or partially true. Is there some cleanup or follow-up that needs to happen? What's your best role in this? (Note: Sometimes your action is to do nothing - to let it go and move forward.)