Quick Hack: Jar Your Negative Self-Talk

Negative Self-Talk

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Most people are aware of their nagging internal commentary that rears its head at different times throughout the day. This is typically called negative self-talk.

It may sound like these:

  • I suck at this.
  • I should have known better.
  • I can’t believe I did that.
  • I’m not lovable.
  • You’re such an idiot.
  • You need to do better.
  • You are horrible at this.
  • You are not lovable.
  • You’re going to screw this up.

How to Handle Negative Self-talk?

Next time you hear it, notice the pronoun that is used. It will usually be either “I” or “You” based. Notice which one your system likes to use. How do you feel when you hear it?

Now, change the pronoun. Have that voice repeat everything it just said with the opposite pronoun. For example, if the initial dialog was “You are such an idiot.” Switch it to “I am such an idiot.” Notice what happens when you do this.

Typically the harsher the initial dialog is the more jarring it will be when you change the pronoun.

For many people the pronoun switch no longer feels as familiar. It loses its punch. The specific configuration or recipe for making you feel bad is constructed with a specific sequence of words. Just like if you add the eggs last after you take the cake out of the oven, you are not going to have a delightful treat. The outcome you want is a result of using the recipe in the right order.

You can take this further by further switching the sequence of words. What impact does changing “I am such an idiot” to “An idiot such am I”? Or change “You are such an idiot” to “Such are you an idiot”?

Another thing to note is that most negative self-talk are delivered as statements or commands not as questions. You can change them into questions to see what kind of impact that has as well. For example, how does it feel to change “You’re going to screw this up” to “Are you going to screw this up”?

Next time, knock out that negative nagging noise with a simple pronoun switch or a complete change of sequence.

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