Negative self-talk is a topic I regularly discuss with my clients, in my group program, and here on the blog. Reducing and releasing your negative self-talk is the non-negotiable first step if you want to improve your health, happiness, and quality of life. That’s because self-criticism instigates self-sabotaging behavior, such as overeating, undereating or unhealthy eating, skipping exercise, and using drugs, alcohol or cigarettes as a way to numb emotional pain. So this week, I challenge you to a negative self-talk detox, where you practice ignoring, releasing and reframing your negative beliefs.
The Hypocrisy Of Negative Self-Talk
What I often think about, when I think about self-criticism, is the hypocrisy of it.
- We teach our children to be kind to other people…
- Our society values compassion and equality and volunteering…
- We don’t respect selfish behavior…
- And we will NOT condone any form of abuse
But when it comes to how we treat ourselves, we seem to think that it’s perfectly acceptable to mock, bully, criticize, admonish, and abuse — all before lunchtime!
I highly doubt that if you saw another person in pain (physical, mental or emotional), you would push them deeper into misery. But you do it to yourself.
And I think it’s safe to say that if you heard a friend berate herself, criticize her body, or say that she’ll never amount to anything, you would step in and defend her. And yet, when you engage in self-criticism, your tendency may be to lean into it and twist the knife a little deeper.
It seems at odds with the way we’re wired, don’t you think?
Why Do A Negative Self-Talk Detox
I used to be the queen of self-criticism. On the rare occasion that a positive personal thought popped to mind it would quickly be replaced with a hard reality check, and no matter what I heard from other people I never felt worthy simply being me.
(Unsurprisingly, this habit coincided with my eating disorders, exercise addiction, and social reclusiveness. Go figure.)
Fortunately, those days are past and I can know live with gratitude and positivity as my default settings, and when negative thoughts come my way I can process and purge them as quickly as possible.
I do want to make it clear, however, that I still self-criticize from time-to-time, and it’s important to remember that healthy living and self-love is a lifelong commitment, during which time you will take steps forward AND steps back. I can’t teach you how to reach some nirvana of body positivity, no one can, but I can show you how to live in a way that makes you feel great most of the time and provide you with coping strategies for those days when old habits rear their heads.
And that’s why this detox will help you. It’s not about eliminating negative thoughts. But catching them, releasing them, and replacing them, until they decrease in frequency and no longer lead you to acts of self-sabotage.
How To Do A Negative Self-Talk Detox
Pay attention to every critical thought. Stop and listen to it, and then WRITE IT DOWN.
Talk back to the thought. “No, I disagree, you’re just a thought and not a true reflection of me.”
Choose to let the thought go. You can shake it off and put your focus elsewhere, or you can obsess over it, pick at it and inflame it, and allow that thought to lead you to sabotaging behavior. Please do the former.
Replace these negative beliefs with positive personal ones. At the end of the day, I want you to review all of the negative thoughts that you wrote down, ask yourself why you had them, and then reframe each one into something positive.
Here’s An Example
Here is a real example from last week when I knocked over a bottle of milk. My automatic reaction when I do things like this has always started with “Dammit, Jenn!” and that’s something that I’ve worked on changing by using the strategy below.
I hear myself say: “Dammit, Jenn! I can’t believe you did that [spilled the milk], you’re so clumsy, and you’ve wasted all this time.”
I’ll reply to myself: “No, not “dammit, Jenn!” Just “whoops,” this was an accident, and it’s no big deal. I can quickly get it cleaned up.”
As I clean I pay attention to a new thought. The action is now in the past, so it’s time to move on.
I reframe it. I no longer need to write these thoughts down as I can catch and correct at the moment. So what I did, as I returned the milk carton to the fridge, was give myself a smile and a little congratulations for the lovely oxtail casserole that I had made and was ready to be heated for dinner that night. Crisis averted!
Now It’s Your Turn
I do hope that you’ll commit to this negative self-talk detox. You can do it for one day, three days, five or seven, whatever suits you. And I hope you’ll let me know what you discovered by leaving a comment below!
Further Reading On Negative Self-Talk
As I mentioned, this is a topic I like to discuss. Here are some other articles that you might enjoy reading from the blog:
Join The Waitlist For Slim Down With Self Love Bootcamp
If you found this exercise valuable you will love my online program, Slim Down With Self Love Bootcamp. Read more about it and join the waitlist here.