If you were to go to live with someone for several decades, how important would the relationship between the two of you be?
Wouldn’t you make an effort to ensure you got along well? Wouldn’t you want to make sure the relationship between the two of you was encouraging, positive, and supportive?
And who exactly IS this companion of which we speak? It is the voice that speaks to us day in and day out. This constant companion is our self-talk.
Self-talk, or your internal dialogue, can have a major impact on your self-worth, self-esteem, and the way you see the world. Unfortunately, for many of us, the relationship between ourselves and that voice isn’t so positive.
We all have a running dialogue in our head. It’s present all day, every day and can have a tremendous impact on your state-of-mind. That’s exactly why positive self-talk is so important to your mental and emotional health.
Identifying negative thinking
Not sure if your self-talk is positive or negative? Some common forms of negative self-talk include (MayoClinic):
- Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.
- Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
- Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
- Polarizing (Splitting). You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you’re a total failure. This is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole.
Here is a link to an extensive list of common cognitive distortions:
If you are wondering if you are struggling with negative self-talk, it can create a myriad of symptoms that include anxiety, depression, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and chronic fatigue. If any of this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry. There are ways to combat the effects of negative self-talk. With a little practice, you can break the cycle and take control of your internal dialogue. Remember, our self-talk is idiosyncratic, but it also amendable.
Counseling can be beneficial in overcoming negative self-talk. If I can be of any help to you:
Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed, LPC, NCC
THEODOROU THERAPY, LLC
590 Franklin Ave.
Nutley, NJ 07110