“Good vibes only.”
“Only speak kind words to yourself.”
“Tell yourself you can do anything.”
Nope, these don’t work for me either.
Replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk might not work for you if the words you’re speaking aren’t believable in the first place. Research has shown that if you don’t already feel that great, repeating a happy-go-lucky phrase might actually make you feel worse than you already do. In one 2009 study, “psychologists Joanne V. Wood and John W. Lee from the University of Waterloo, and W.Q. Elaine Perunovic from the University of New Brunswick, found that individuals with low self-esteem actually felt worse about themselves after repeating positive self-statements.” [Association for Psychological Science]
Self-talk isn’t inherently good or bad, it’s information. It’s the emotional lens we cast over that information that determines what we do with it (or how we verbalize it to ourselves). That’s why I don’t shame myself even MORE when I start to say something mean to myself: I know there’s real information somewhere in there, and other truths that are present. I just might have to slow down and lean in to figure out what they are.
So if replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk doesn’t work on its own, what DOES?
When your negative self-talk starts to flare up, get curious. Look for alternate truths in the situation — proactive ones you already believe.
These are some recent helpful ones for me, so being the millennial I am, I thought I’d make a save-able, shareable graphic for you in case they’re helpful for you too:
Screenshot this list, add to your bookmarks, and try them out. Don’t forget to tell me how it goes in the comments or in the DMs on Instagram (I’m @katiehorwitch over there).
It’s not about stopping.
It’s about shifting.