Picture it. You’re working out in a new gym circuit training class. It’s your first time and you are a little nervous. The trainer comes over to help you with your form and teach you how to do the exercises. You have a little bit of a hard time getting it right and you get frustrated. What would you do? Do you tell yourself, “Hey it’s my first time, and I will get better?” Or do you listen to your negative self-talk, ” I am such a moron.” “I am so stupid.” This morning as I was working out I heard this 60-something year old woman saying, “I am so stupid,” to herself for not getting the exercise right. I felt so sad for her.
I hear it all the time in my office. Women beat themselves up over the tiniest things. They had a fight with their partner and they were mean. They didn’t handle a situation with their kids appropriately. The negative self- talk begins and it is like a broken record. I am a bad Mommy. I am so mean. I must be crazy. It is a seemingly endless spiral and they end up feeling sad, hurt, and ashamed.
You can stop the negative self-talk. As a friend of mine calls it, the monkey chatter in your brain, doesn’t have to win. Here are some tips to follow next time you hear the monkey chatter in your mind.
1. Practice self-compassion
Would you talk like that to a friend? I don’t think so. What it would be like if you were a little kinder to yourself? Next time put your hand on your heart and say something kind to yourself? Like, “ It’s okay. “ “You’re doing great.”
2. Be your own detective
Catch your negative thoughts before it turns into negative self-talk. It’s not the thought that’s the problem. It’s what you do with that thought. Do you turn it into a broken record and recite the negative self- talk over and over to yourself? Or do you ask yourself, “Is this really true?” or, “Are there any possibilities that I haven’t thought of?
3. Replace the negative self-talk
Replace it with a new mantra, a quote, a song, and a poem, anything you can use to say to yourself as soon as you feel the negative thinking or negative self-talk coming in your mind. You have to memorize it. Post it on your bathroom mirror or on your Facebook status, or on your iphone screen. Be ready to say it to yourself over and over as soon as your negative thoughts arise.
These strategies will reduce your stress from the negative self-talk and the negative thoughts that you have. They will make a difference in your lives, in your stress levels, your reactions, and in your happiness. It won’t happen overnight but with practice, I promise it will make a big difference in your life.