Most all of us understand the importance of self-love. It is within this mindset that all the most incredible things we have to offer comes forth.
All the gurus and pundits that teach us how to achieve and feel better about ourselves emphasize the importance of having self-love.
The main detriment to our self-love
Our unique and personal version of self-love depends on how we communicate with ourselves. And this comes down to that constant inner dialog we hear inside our minds daily.
These internal words are by far the most communication we hear in our lifetimes. It’s hard to grasp the actual number of words we say to ourselves every single day.
Experts have long told us about the astounding number of daily thoughts we have. Depending on who is reporting, it is estimated that we have as many as 80,000 thoughts per day.
At some point, many of these thoughts become self-talk and then our inner dialog. Think of the amount of self-talk that all these thoughts can generate in our heads. And the fact is that we repeat many of the same thoughts over and over to ourselves!
The question then becomes what percentage of our self-talk is negative, and what percentage is positive?
For example, if 75% of our self-talk is negative, it would be tough to sustain a healthy level of self-love. In fact, it would be like swimming against a strong current – you would be mentally exhausted from all the effort.
Negative self-talk and its impact
Here’s some bad news about negative self-talk.
Take a look around, and you’ll see negative news stories – because the media experts tell us that bad news sells better than good news.
We see a society that has become so cynical that “critic” is actually a job title in several genres like movies, books, restaurants, etc.
Our social media is driven by charged negative motivations such as political outrage, fat-shaming, and cancel culture – to name just a few.
It is my fundamental belief that most people in the world today have a higher percentage of negative self-talk than positive self-talk. In most cases, our environment dramatically affects our thoughts, inner dialog, self-talk, and eventually, our self-love.
Addressing negative inner-dialog
It’s too bad that there is no magic switch to shut our negative self-talk down once and for all. However, the first step toward reducing this negative inner dialog is through awareness and being mindful.
This is because our inner dialog is a programmed response to the world around us. In order to change this pattern, we have to interrupt the automated process consciously. To do this, we have to begin identifying when negative self-talk first occurs and then replace it with more supportive words.
The simple act of noticing your self-talk habits lets you begin unlocking more flexibility to deal with them and modify your thoughts.
4 types of negative self-talk
The one elusive thing about an inner dialog that is negative is that there are different forms. However, generally speaking, most of them break down into four types.
When your mind uses filtering, you tend to cherry-pick the negative aspects of a given scenario while eliminating the positive elements.
It’s like when the house looks lovely, but your negative self-talk focuses on a single dust ball found in the corner of a closet. And now you completely suck at cleaning the house.
Or we were feeling like a loser and terrible student when we got the one “B” and five “A’s.”
The fact is that every achievement, regardless of how big or small they were, will always outweigh the negative. It’s progress in its own right. Yes, lessons can always be learned, but they aren’t as eagerly earning from a demoralized state of mind.
When you catch yourself filtering out the negatives like this, try writing down all the recent things that have gone great. After doing this for a while, you will gradually realize that things aren’t as bad as you think.
When you catastrophize, you immediately assume the worst.
Such as when you are driving to work, and you get stuck in traffic – you assume that you’ll be there for hours. And you begin frantically addressing things in your mind in such a scenario.
The best thing to do here is put things in perspective. How likely is it that you’ll be there for hours? How often does that really happen?
When you consider different outcomes, you begin downgrading your distress from a frightening catastrophe to an uncomfortable incident.
Sometimes this type of thinking comes from standard advice of dealing with problematic issues. We are often taught to assume the worst to create a contingency plan – this is different because it’s planning vs. reacting.
When people personalize, they automatically blame themselves for something terrible that has happened.
Suppose you sent out an email to a group of colleagues that needed a reply from them, one way or another. If they are slow to respond, then you begin thinking that they’re mad at you for some reason. Or that your email was poorly written.
When this happens, stop your negative self-talk and first consider the best reasons for their slow response. Perhaps they were all busy at the moment.
Secondly, determine if your thoughts are based on any evidence or just your perception. Never forget that reality and perception are two different things. And if you tend to personalize, then most likely, your perception is at fault.
It’s always good to look at situations from the outside before drawing any conclusions.
People who polarize tend to see things as either good or bad. For them, there’s no middle ground. This kind of mindset creates a feeling that you must be a complete failure if you are not perfect.
Perhaps you get up bright and early every day. But then, on the one day you decide to sleep a few extra hours, you believe you’re a lazy person – or at least your negative inner dialog thinks so.
During these times of brutal internal polarizing, you should be kind to yourself. Point out that no one is perfect, and it’s okay to have an average performance sometimes.
Mistakes are what make us human. Don’t worry; a few mistakes won’t lead us down a path of laziness and non-productivity.
However, releasing the burden of polarizing your life will recharge your self-image and allow you to perform even better. This is because no one can work and be productive during every waking hour. Humans need recreation and relaxation to perform at peak levels.
Never forget that self-love is your overall goal. One powerful way to achieve that is by eliminating your negative self-talk, and we identified and discussed the four major types of this.
Understand that it’s impossible to get rid of all the negative mental dialog we have with ourselves. But what is very practical is reducing and replacing the hurtful phrases that we repeat over and over again inside our minds.
At the very least, we should strive to hear more positive self-talk than negative. When this is achieved, then you are well on your way.