Self talks are things we tell ourselves, often in a subconscious way, that we believe to be true. They are not necessary true. In fact, they are often left unexamined, unchallenged and unverified. They are simply assumed to be true. Often, when we have properly examined them, they turn out to be otherwise.
Negative self talks are things we tell ourselves that negatively impact our lives. A common example is "I am not good enough". Another one is "I am a bad person". Negative self talks such as these are detrimental to our well being. They are harmful to our self esteem as well as to our physical health.
Everyone has negative self talks. We differ only in the degree or frequency of negative self talks. The good news is that we can change and reduce this unbeneficial mental habit.
1. Learn to be aware of your thoughts
Most people are not very aware of their own thoughts. By this, I do not mean that they do not know their thoughts entirely. We are all aware of our conscious talks. However, there is another layer of talks further below this conscious level that many are not very aware of. Very often, our self talks are found in this deeper level.
The way to become more aware of these self talks is by being more mindful. This would require a purposeful act of paying attention to our thoughts as they arise. In the beginning, this may feel awkward and foreign to our habits. With repeated practice, we can become better at paying attention to our own thoughts.
2. Pick out the negative self talks
Once we are good at noticing our thoughts, we can then pick out those negative self talks that often prevent us from becoming our best. For now, leave the positive self talks alone.
3. Challenge the negative self talks
Very often, negative self talks are found to be untrue when they are properly and honestly examined and challenged. They are often simply excuses we made up so that we can continue to stay "safe" in our comfort zones. Recognize that these are mental barriers that we ourselves have unconsciously erected, and they prevent us from facing up to our fears as well as stop us from overcoming our self-imposed limitations.
To challenge your negative self talks, ask yourself:
1. "Is it true?"
2. Can you be absolutely sure that it is true?
3. How would you feel if it were not true?
The goal is to challenge the truth of your own thoughts. Our natural habit is to resist this, and we can recognize this resistance by noticing the discomfort and anxiety that arise. Allow the anxiety to be. There is no need to act on the anxiety. Simply watch it arising, and with time, it will pass, just as all feelings do.
The more you practice, the easier it becomes to simply watch the resistance arising and passing away. Eventually, the habit of resisting reduces. We become more discerning in our thoughts. We may even be able to consciously replace a negative thought with a positive one.
This is true progress in changing a negative mental habit.