Psychology for Living

Gwen Randall-Young
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Stop negative self-talk

Do you have an inner critic that works overtime? Sometimes negative self-talk gets way out of control. It is like negative brainwashing that just does not quit. Sometimes it has been going on so long that the individual believes that what the critic says is true.

Often, this stems from being criticized as a child. The inner voice carries on where the parents, teachers or peers left off. The problem is those messages may be ten, twenty or thirty years old. They likely were not true then, and are not true now. However, those with a strong inner critic, live as though those messages are true, and continue to reinforce them.
Often, the criticisms one levels at the self are so mean and cruel that we would never think of saying such things to another person. Because the person thinks the self-talk is true, he or she does not even realize the comments are emotionally abusive.
What is the effect of such behaviour? It is the same as verbal abuse coming from an outside source. It results in poor self-esteem and lack of confidence. It can contribute to anxiety and depression. It can cause the individual to give up on trying to accomplish what he or she would truly like in all areas of life. It can even lead to suicide.
The person who is constantly self-judging cannot have relationships that are as healthy and loving as they could otherwise be. They often need an inordinate amount of approval and attention from others. They may tend to be harder on partners or children simply because they are not happy within themselves.
The first step in breaking this cycle is to commit to stopping the negative self-talk. Practice thought stopping, or change the inner channel. Doing this consistently will begin to break the habit.
If you truly believe all the negative things you say about yourself, it may be time to work with a therapist to get yourself on a more positive mental and emotional path.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or CDs, visit ww.gwen.ca
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