Your Self-Talk – Is it a Friend Or Foe? Part 2 – Patterns of Negative Self-Talk

As I pointed out in the first article in this series, developing internal speech- or self-talk – is a necessary component in your maturation and helps you to become self-reflective and self-regulating. Unfortunately, as a result of many familial, societal and cultural factors, you can learn negative self-talk. Negative self-talk erodes your self-confidence and can keep you from being who you want to be and from doing and having the things you desire. 

Because it is a learned behavior, you can learn new behaviors to override it. The first step in doing so is recognizing your style of thinking and your patterns of negative self-talk. 

Examples of Negative Patterns of Thinking and Self-Talk 

You set unreasonably high standards for yourself. You often say “I should have been able to…” or “I must not…” When you cannot meet these standards, negative self-talk can be about how you let yourself or others down. As a result, feelings of shame can occur. In your attempt to antidote the shame, you may tell yourself you will try harder the next time thereby setting the bar even higher. 
You are preoccupied with your flaws and tend to magnify them. You also fail to recognize or you minimize what you do right. You often say “Why did I…” or “I never can…” As a result, feelings of stress can occur. In your attempt to antidote the stress, you tell yourself all the things you should have done and must do in the future thereby increasing your stress to the point of anxiety. 
You put others in a position of authority over you even when they are not. You tend to factor in their opinions before making a decision. You often say “What will they think if…” or “I don’t want them to be mad if I…” As a result, feelings of self-doubt increase. In your attempt to antidote your self-doubt, you search even more for the approval of others thereby intensifying your feelings that you alone are not acceptable or sufficient. 
You talk yourself out of doing things before even trying. You tell yourself that you probably won’t be able to finish the task or you probably won’t do well. You often say “I want to, but…” or “I don’t think I can…” As a result, feelings of inadequacy or lack of self-efficacy can occur. In your attempt to antidote your feelings of inadequacy, you continue to lower the bar for yourself and further limit your possibilities. 

In the last article in this series, I will explore ways to change to more positive patterns of thinking and self-talk.