Eliminate Negative Self-Talk

negative self-talk

Negative self-talk comes naturally to make people. Unfortunately, negative self-talk creates a lot of unnecessary stress.

Our self-talk is filtered in response to both internal and external stimuli. Our thinking is internal, while stimuli to our senses are external. In other words, we are affected by what we see, what we hear, what we touch, what we taste, and what we smell. Just imagining something can prompt the same feeling as an actual event. The same goes with our self-talk.

Henry David Thoreau put it this way: “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” The important point here is that we can eliminate negative self-talk and develop positive self-talk just by being aware of our nonconscious filtering system.

Many psychologists assert that negative self-talk—including labeling something as negative or perceiving something as unmanageable—promotes our own stress. Because we have the power to change our thinking, we also have the ability to alter our emotions. Neuroscientists have discovered that our thoughts can alter the physical structure in the gray matter of our brain. In other words, the brain and our physiology change as a result of the thoughts we give it.

Change Your Negative Self-Talk

Thankfully, self-talk need not be negative. Often, the way you feel about something can be reframed by changing just one word. Compare the different feelings aroused from these two thoughts: (1) I have to see my supervisor vs. (2) I get to see my supervisor. To truly understand the effect between “have to” and “get to,” apply both words to a variety of situations and feel the difference. Here are a few starters:

  • “I have to go to the gym” vs. “I get to go to the gym.”
  • “I have to spend the evening with my in-laws” vs. “I get to spend the evening with my in-laws.”
  • “I have to attend the parent conference” vs. “I get to meet my child’s teacher.”

We become happier and more effective when we choose thoughts that empower, rather than ones that weaken or constrict. A monkey knows to eat only the nourishing part of the banana and throw away the bitter peel. Yet, as humans, we absorb criticism, embarrassment, ridicule, and other negatives—some of which are our own creation! We often “chew on the peel” rather than ingest the nutritional part.


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