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Is Negative Self-Talk Killing your Self-Esteem?

Dr Elizma van der Smit. October 2020

· Mind,Life Skills

You’ve probably heard of your Inner Critic. In fact, you probably heard too much from your Inner Critic, and it’s not doing your self-esteem any good at all.

How often have you seen something like an opportunity, a new job, an advertisement to run a marathon, or a course you’d love to take and felt a spike of excitement? But then did you immediately squelch your enthusiasm because you thought “I’m no good at that,” “I probably wouldn’t get it,” “but I’m not that sort of person?”

The water torture of negative self-talk can erode your confidence and leave you with a constant dark view of your qualities and capabilities. This self-view is not just bad for your self-image – it can build up an edifice of self-doubt that can stop you rising to challenges, making the most of your talents, or just having fun. And it’s just not true.

If you only focus on your failures, you’re giving them an importance they don’t deserve. You’ll never give yourself the chance to be your best you. If you habitually “catastrophize,” you can be unconsciously working towards creating the worst happening.

You can choose to turn this around – try these three techniques to halt your Inner Critic in its tracks.

  1. Notice your self–talk

What is it saying, what is it focused on? Whose voice can you hear? Often our subconscious messages are drafted in early childhood – when your Inner Critic’s scripts are laid down. What information were you given then? Were you told you were untidy, careless, stupid, no good at math/spelling/reading? What was your label in the family?

  1. Demand evidence

Who says you’re no good at x? No one is perfect at everything – it’s ok to have weaknesses, it’s human. But they don’t have to define you. Write down all your skills. What are your talents? Are you an exceptional planner? Do people love your thoughtfulness or your beef stroganoff? Are you good at chairing meetings or giving presentations? Focus on the things you’re good at and if your weaknesses bother you, make a plan to strengthen them. But don’t let them define you.

  1. Change the record

Close your eyes and imagine your Inner Critic yapping away as usual. Now shrink him down to size and put your hand up to stop him from talking. Hand over the list of your skills, talents and positive traits, and tell him that this is the new script. His role now is to remind you of these. Exaggerations, focusing on the negative, and down-talking will no longer be tolerated and from this moment on, will be ignored.
 

This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.

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This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.