The way we speak to ourselves is the foundation to self-esteem and self-love. The goal is for that voice in your head to be your best friend. But when you have a lot of negative thoughts, it could seem like there’s a bully living in your head.
Most of your self talk comes from past messages you’ve heard or witnessed from people, from the feedback you’ve gotten from the people closest to you, indirectly from social media, past experiences and the information you’re exposed to from media. Notice what they all have in common? Negative thoughts mostly come from external sources. You were not born with them. Life taught you these thoughts.
How do you challenge these negative thoughts?
The first step is noticing that you’re even having a negative thought in the first place. We can’t change something we’re not even aware that we’re doing.
Once you realize you’re in a negative thinking loop, tell yourself “there it goes again” or “ I’m doing it again” this just helps you check yourself into the present moment and get out of your head for a second. This is what’s called being mindful. You are paying attention to your thinking.
Once you’re aware of the negative thought, question where it came from. Ask yourself “where did this thought come from? Did someone say something to me? Am I reliving the past by remembering past negative events?”
What you’re doing here is trying to find the source. Is the source a good judge? For example, let’s say you say to yourself “I’m so fat and unattractive.” Where did you pick up that thought? Maybe an abuse ex used to say those mean things to you. Maybe it was past or current bullies. Maybe it’s coming from messages you heard family say about other people. Or maybe it came from you being hard on yourself.
Again, the point here is trying to pinpoint where that thought came from. We are not born with these negative thoughts. Life teaches us these negative messages.
The next step is to then question your thoughts. Some questions to ask would be;
- Is this thought 100% true?
- Whats the evidence for AND against this thought?
- What advice would I give a friend?
- Am I imagining a scenario or replaying facts?
- What do I need/want right now?
- What can I control?
- What’s a solution?
Finally, replace that thought with either looking at it differently or finding a solution.
The reality is we all can only control the way we REACT to people/circumstances and the way we LOOK AT THINGS. What’s a positive thing you can take about the situation? If there’s nothing positive, at the very least take it as a learning experience so you don’t repeat the same thing.
You can focus on solutions by problem solving and asking for help.
You can also replace the negative thought by playing around with words. For example, instead of saying to yourself “I’m a looser” replace it with “Everyone makes mistakes” or “If someone else has accomplished ____, that’s evidence that it can be done” When replacing the thought, it has to be believable. If you don’t believe it, it won’t work.
These are broad examples as I don’t know your personal situation. But the steps are the same regardless of the circumstances. With practice and consistency, it does get easier to challenge negative thinking.