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How to Redirect Your Negative Self-Talk

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Can you imagine your life without the weight of your inner critic? What would your days feel like without all the negative self-talk? What possibilities would emerge in its absence?

The effects of a crappy inner dialogue might feel all too familiar, but rarely do we stop to consider its true cost. Without an honest exploration of the war we wage with ourselves, we fall prey to things like imposter syndrome, the comparison trap, and self-doubt. Not only do these make us feel bad, but they also keep us from putting ourselves out there, trying new things, stretching into new skills, and claiming a well-lived life. 

I’m sure you didn’t sign up for cheating yourself out of your best life. And I’m certain that you wouldn’t choose self-doubt given the option. So, what’s going on here? Why does this happen? 

Negative self-talk and all its effects arise from a strained relationship with ourselves. That strained self-relationship is what I call inner opposition. It’s the resistance we have with ourselves — resistance to our worth, our competency, our “enough-ness.” The result is self-doubt and an ensuing belief that we’re lacking in some way (neither of which feel great). 

And here’s what’s wonky: we choose our beliefs.  

So then, if a belief feels so bad, why do we buy into it? And if its weight holds us back and keeps us from thriving, why do we keep choosing it?  

“Evidence is conclusive that your self-talk has a direct bearing on your performance.” – Zig Ziglar

As humans, we’re hardwired for connection and belonging. Our brain’s job is to keep us safe, and it treats social threats the same as environmental threats. So, for example, if the boss throws us under the bus in a meeting, it triggers us in the same way as a tiger lunging at us from a bush. Rejection literally hurts the brain. Any experience of isolation, exclusion, disapproval, humiliation, or perceived negative judgment registers as physical pain in the brain.  

If rejection is painful and social threats are on par with environmental threats, then that means we’re doing everything we can to stay in good graces or in favorable standing with others. The need for acceptance and approval drives much of what we think, say, do, and feel.  

For example, think back to the last high-stakes presentation you gave and any accompanying anxiety you may have experienced. Now, consider the contents of your inner dialogue, which may have sounded like this: “What if I fail? What if I sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about?” 

This kind of pervasive anxiety is so common that we rarely get to the root of the fear. We say it’s fear of failure, or fear of doing a bad job, but I encourage you to inquire further. What’s really underneath this fear? It’s a fear of negative judgment, which maps to rejection, which maps to pain our brain tries to avoid at all costs.  

We generally don’t like pain and most of us steer clear from social and environment threats. The need to stay safe is so primal that our brain’s search for safety influences our perception to navigate in a way that favors our safety. What we see, what we interpret, and what we believe is largely influenced by this need to stay safe.

Negative self-talk

So back to negative self-talk. Where does it come from? Frankly, at some point in your past you took on a negative self-image to protect yourself from rejection. That negative self-belief, such as “I’m not good enough” is like a lens you look through. Through that lens you’re more easily able to identify the situations where you may be “found out.” As a result, you’re more apt to look for situations where it’s easy for your worth to shine. This kind of conditional living leads you to play it safe and keeps you from putting yourself out there.  

Keeping the lens focused on safe alternatives is exactly what keeps us from thriving. More importantly, it’s the filter through which all negative self-talk emerges — the running commentary that’s guiding you toward safety.  

Breaking out from the victimization of negative belief that guards you from rejection requires getting to the source of your negative self-talk. Give yourself the opportunity to no longer “choose” it. Use these tips to free yourself from the weight of your inner critic: 

  1. Answer the question: “What are you afraid people would think, decide, or find out about you?” Whatever you answer is what you believe about yourself. It’s the root of your negative self-talk. 
  2. Acknowledge that you took on this belief to make sense of perceived rejection. This belief originally was a defensive filter, but has become a completely unhelpful and inaccurate way to protect yourself from the primal fear of rejection. Recognizing that you unknowingly chose it to stay safe helps loosen the grip of inner opposition. 
  3. Ask: Does it serve me and the world to hold onto this belief? Meeting this choice with logic often is enough to see the futility in it. It makes it much harder to actively choose a negative self-belief when you see that no one benefits. 
  4. Choose otherwise. No one is perfect and mistakes are inevitable. In fact, according to recent research, we want to fail 15 percent of the time for optimal learning and growth. Find solace in our humanity and claim the truth that you’re inherently enough and on your own unique path. Everyone is. Decide to know you’re whole and complete, and that mistakes don’t diminish your worth. 

The moment you make peace with the truth of your enough-ness is the moment you stop negative self-talk at its root.  

Amy Eliza Wong is a certified executive coach who has devoted more than 20 years to the study and practice of helping others live and lead on purpose. She works with some of the biggest names in tech and teaches transformational leadership and communication strategies to executives and teams around the world. Her new book is Living on Purpose: Five Deliberate Choices to Realize Fulfillment and Joy (BrainTrust Ink, May 24, 2022). Learn more at alwaysonpurpose.com.

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Life

Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.

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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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Life

5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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Life

3 Simple Steps to Cultivate Courage and Create a Life of Meaning

we cultivate meaning in our lives when we pursue our calling

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Our deepest human desire is to cultivate meaning in our lives. Our deepest human need is to survive. (more…)

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Life

Grit: The Key to Your Ultimate Greatness

Grit is an overlooked aspect of success, but it plays a critical role.

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A grit mindset is an essential key to your greatness. It’s what separates those who achieve their goals from those who give up and never reach their potential. It’s also the difference between success and failure, happiness and misery. If you want to be great and achieve your dreams, then you need grit. Luckily, it’s something that can be learned. Please keep reading to learn more about grit and discover four ways to develop it. (more…)

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