That little voice in our heads, if left unchecked can prevent us from trying new things, cause social anxiety, lower our self-esteem and make us feel pretty miserable sometimes. Are you in a habit of negative self talk? How are you talking to yourself, and why does it matter in the workplace?
There are many ways that negative self-talk can appear - whether it is in an insult to yourself, or even something that may sound somewhat realistic like “I didn’t get an A on my test, I must be bad at math.” We all talk to ourselves poorly every now and then. But if you do this frequently, you could be harming your self-esteem, and even worse, your self worth.
Any inner dialogue you have that stifles your belief in yourself, downplays your abilities, or puts you down, is considered negative self-talk. It is a “full-potential” road block and will hamper your ability to make positive changes in your life by lowering your confidence. You are not only causing yourself physical and mental stress, but you are diminishing your potential for success.
Very often, when we are unhappy about something within ourselves, we tend to deflect. That’s why, 9 times out of 10, when someone is hurtful toward you, it has very little to do with you. They are likely taking out their frustrations and unhappiness with themselves onto you. And you likely do the same to others, even if you aren’t aware of it.
Negative self-talk increases stress levels, largely due to the fact that those who engage in it have created this reality where goals are unreachable, opportunities are non-existent, or they are not “able” to be taken advantage of. How we speak to ourselves has a huge impact on how we see ourselves and thus how we see the world. And to take that even further, it can affect how we view others and our relationships with them. Can you see how your relationships in the workplace might be affected if you spiral into negative self-talk? And, even more so, how your performance might be affected negatively as well.
It might be easy for you to believe that self-criticism will help you identify and fix your “flaws” but constant self-scrutiny is a fast track to worry, and even depression. We scrutinize and compare ourselves to others which is a losing battle. Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
So how can we be kinder to ourselves? This isn’t just about self-compassion, which we just recently covered. This is where we can utilize specific strategies to improve our view of our successes, increase our motivation to live in alignment with our goals, and to decrease our judgment of not only ourselves, but of others as well.
We were lucky enough to have Dr. Rachel Goldsmith Turow on our podcast. You can see her interview here.
She wrote a wonderful book, titled “The Self Talk Workout,” that outlines several concrete steps you can take to improve your inner voice and set you on a path to a happier you. These range from learning how to be less judgmental, appreciating failure, recognizing a win no matter how small, and even using the loving kindness meditation.
I think we will all have moments of negativity in our inner voice. But if it has become so regular that it is impacting your happiness and productivity, it’s important to realize it can change! According to Dr. Turow, it is not something that will just change with intention. Whatever strategy you use to improve your self-talk, it is going to take practice, consistency, and a bit of patience, but you’ll be better for it in the long run! After all, our inner voice is the one we hear the most. Wouldn’t it be great if it was our biggest fan?