This month I gave myself a self-improvement challenge. I want to become a more positive person. So, one way I want to achieve that is to lessen the amount of negative language I use on a daily basis.
Negative language has been a huge part of my life recently. From telling my daughter not to do things constantly and to constantly thinking about how I couldn’t do things.
I was hoping that by cutting back on negative language that I’d not only feel better but I’d be more pleasant to be around. I knew this would be tough. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re being negative. It was going to take a lot of work, but I knew this was a change I really needed to make.
Before I go into how I feel like I did on this challenge, let’s see how negative talk affects our lives and how we can work on not letting it control our lives.
How it Affects Us
- Reduced self-esteem
- Increased stress
- Feelings of depression and anxiety
- Relationship Troubles
If we constantly think negatively, we may even cause some of those thoughts to occur. For example, if you’re constantly thinking that you can’t make friends or no one likes you, you may completely stop trying to make friends. You may isolate yourself from the people you are friends with. This could cause you to lose friends. You may actively rebuff people’s attempts at friendships and that may cause them to dislike you.
Ways to Cutback on Negative Talk
You can’t stop your negative thinking if you’re not noticing it. This is going to take a lot of practice. Don’t get discouraged.
Change the Tone
When you do start catching these negative thoughts start trying to change them. Sometimes it’s really hard to stop the train of thought and that’s fine. Turn it into something either neutral or into something positive (that’s still true).
For example, “I can’t do this” can become “this is difficult”, “I’m having trouble with this”, etc. “I’m the worst” can become “I’m practicing to become better”.
Whatever the thought is, you can reframe it. Just remember, you want your reframed statement to be based in reality. You’re not the worst, but telling yourself that you’re the best won’t be helpful either.
Check for Thinking Traps
Thinking traps (cognitive distortions) are ways our brain plays tricks on us. These traps reinforce negative thinking. If you can notice any thinking traps in your thoughts, it becomes (in my opinion at least) easier to fight them.
Here are a few common distortions and I also recommend doing your own research on this topic. It can get pretty in-depth, but check this site out for more information.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking
- Over Generalization
- Mental Filter
- Discounting Positive
- Mind Reading
- Fortune Telling
Talk to yourself as a friend would. Would a friend say the things you’re saying to you? Would you say these things to a friend? If the answer is no, then think about how you would say it to a friend. Maybe even call up a friend and see what they say to you.
How often do you challenge your negative thoughts? I’ve been guilty of never challenging mine. I’ll think that I’m the worst or everyone hates me and that’s it. I think it, eventually I feel better, but I never challenged that thought. There was never a rebuttal to it.
Start challenging them! “I’m the worst,” why? What makes me the worst? What makes that true? What makes it not true?
As far as how I did on my challenge. I did okay. I’m way better now than I was when I first started. Funny enough, I may have started having more negative thoughts in the beginning. It could be true that I was just noticing how negative I had been. I still slip up and sometimes it takes a few thoughts before I realize, “hey, I can rethink this thought. Let’s change it”.
Overall, I’m proud of my progress. I definitely plan to keep this up. I think if I keep at it then I’ll start seeing some major improvement in my life. Positive attracts positive right?
What are your opinions on negative thoughts? Have you worked on changing yours and do you have any tips that you can share? Let me know in the comment section below!
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Thank you for reading. Please be kind to one another and have a good day!