About Negative Self-Talk
Let’s first talk about your inner naysayer. This internal voice is probably one of the biggest contributors to your own self-sabotage. It causes you to get in your own way and to avoid the things that could ultimately propel you forward toward living your best life.
I want to be sure you understand that having an inner critic isn’t a weakness. It’s human and something we all deal with. Your inner naysayer is the little voice that sends you all sorts of negative messages. It’s fuelled by numerous emotions, along with experiences from your past. However, you need to understand that your inner naysayer doesn’t always speak the truth. In fact, it’s usually great at over-exaggerating or telling you things that simply aren’t realistic.
Common phrases of your inner critic might include:
- I’m not smart enough to go back to school.
- I’ll never be able to do that.
- I shouldn’t even try for the promotion at work. Someone else is better.
- I’m not attractive enough to ask that person on a date.
- I’m always screwing up.
- I wish I were more talented.
- My life could never be as great as hers.
- I don’t deserve happiness because I’ve made so many mistakes.
- I’m lazy and just don’t have the ambition to get ahead.
- I’m a terrible parent.
- I never try hard enough.
- I’m lazy and unmotivated.
- I don’t deserve to be happy.
While all of these statements are harsh and are things you’d never tell the people you care about, you’ve probably said at least a few of them to yourself at one time or another. We are our own harshest critics.
However, your inner naysayer truly does exist as a means of protection. It’s a defense mechanism of sorts, to keep you in check. Chances are, you’ve internalized a number of messages about yourself throughout your life. These messages have become long-held beliefs.
Your Inner Critic’s Purpose
While sometimes your inner naysayer may just seem like a mean jerk, it really does serve a purpose. It’s your subconscious way of protecting yourself from risk or harm. It protects you from judgment, ridicule, disappointment, and more. Usually, you can overcome things like these. They aren’t the worst things in the world. Missing out on opportunities is far worse.
Negative self-talk can serve as a way to give you a sense of control. After all, if you make the decision not to try for an opportunity or take a risk, you can feel like the outcome was in your hands rather than being left to fate. Unfortunately, this is often a false sense of security in which you aren’t truly keeping yourself safe. Instead, you’re just giving yourself the illusion of control and security.
However, your inner critic can actually keep you physically safe, as well. That little voice in your head should be listened to if it’s extremely persistent and if its message actually seems relevant and sound. Taking time to listen to your negative self-talk is crucial to determining its source and what action to take regarding its message.
Speaking of the source of negative self-talk, it’s important to understand that there are many. Recognizing where these messages are coming from can be the key to defeating them. Many times, our inner critic is mimicking something that was said to us earlier in life. Perhaps you had a family member tell you regularly that you were lazy. This could lead you to berate yourself as an adult for not accomplishing as much as you hope. These types of messages usually aren’t very helpful. In fact, they typically end up being self-fulfilling prophecies that keep you stuck living the same patterns.
Your inner naysayer could also have its origins in beliefs you hold about yourself based on experiences you’ve had. For example, if you’ve had a series of difficult romantic relationships, you could convince yourself that you make a terrible partner or that you attract awful people due to some negative trait of your own. Further analysis could lead to a completely different conclusion, such as the fact that you’re a warm and loving person that some people choose to take advantage of. You should always take time to analyze and question your inner critic.
Essentially, your inner critic usually comes from a host of negative emotions. These could be fear, insecurity, doubt, anger, sadness, or more. Rarely is it your intuition at play, and rarely is the message realistic. That message isn’t often based in truth. It holds you back and keeps you from being your best self.
How Negative Self-Talk Holds You Back
There are countless ways this negative self-talk can affect you. Regardless of the specifics, the end result is usually that you’re being held back from something. This something could be opportunity, advancement, connection, self-improvement, or a wide variety of positive outcomes that could come from ignoring that critical voice inside your head and failing to take risks.
That nasty naysayer anticipates the worst in every situation. This is why it holds you back so readily. It’s hard to take risks and move forward when you’re only looking at the potential negatives that could happen. There are so many ways this fear of the unknown can keep you from growing.
When you fear being embarrassed, you may not offer your ideas. People won’t be able to see all you know and have to offer. This fear can hold you back in your career. Fear of rejection can keep you from pursuing relationships, romantic or otherwise. You may end up being lonely or unfulfilled due to such missed connections.
What about when you’re afraid of what others may think? Perhaps you don’t want to be seen as different and prefer to conform with the status quo. When you’re not being your authentic self, you miss out on so many things. You may not connect with like-minded people, and you could find yourself losing the opportunity to take part in some pretty amazing experiences.
The negative messages you tell yourself can play out in so many ways. The commonality they all share is that you’re failing to move forward when you listen to your inner naysayer. You won’t grow, connect, learn, or experience nearly all that’s possible in your life if you let fear hold you back.
What’s worse is that this tendency usually has a domino effect. The more you give in to negative self-talk, the more times you’ll fail to try or to put yourself out there. This becomes a habit. With each missed opportunity, it gets harder to take risks. You’ll find yourself falling further and further into the same rut you’ve been yearning to burst out of. That’s why it’s crucial to take control and to find ways to live your best life. I’d love to help you on the road to doing just that.
Overcoming Your Inner Naysayer
Before moving onto more steps you can take toward getting out of your own way and improving your life, I’d like to touch upon just a few simple and concrete ways you can start to overcome your inner naysayer. It’s truly not hard once you begin to take action. Getting started is the toughest part, but with practice, you’ll find that making a change can actually be quite empowering. Quieting that critical voice in your head will make every other part of this process so much easier.
One way to quiet your inner critic is to get busy. You may not be ready to confront your negative self-talk directly, but you can try to prove that it’s a liar by taking steps toward the things you desire. Even the smallest actions can help to give you confidence and fuel your motivation, creating momentum that pushes you forward toward doing great things.
When you are ready for a bit of self-analysis, sit down with your negative thoughts and try to figure out where they’re coming from. Where is the source of these messages? Could it be from childhood events or more recent experiences? Is this your own conclusion or input from someone else? Then take the process one step further by assessing the message to see if there is any truth in it. You’ll usually find that what your inner naysayer is telling you is an exaggeration. Try to find a more realistic message within the onslaught of negativity.
Ask yourself if you’d say these things to someone you love. If you wouldn’t give such harsh messages to others in your life, why are you saying them to yourself? You deserve just as much compassion and encouragement as anyone else. Try to be gentler with yourself, and you’ll see that your inner critic is much easier to manage.
You can also consider the worst-case scenario and challenge it. Take a look at all those terrible things you tell yourself will happen if you take a risk. Break them down. Are they really so horrible? Can you survive them? The answer is probably that even the worst thing you can imagine isn’t insurmountable. Then ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen if you don’t move forward. Realizing all you could be missing out on is a strong motivator to silence your negative self-talk.
When you find yourself ready to give in to your inner naysayer, think about another time when you’ve encountered a similar issue and have been successful. Looking back on past success is a great way to boost your self-confidence and help you to push past any negative messages you’ve been internalizing. You know that you’ve been capable in the past, and you can do the same now. Why not give it a go?
Hopefully, you now understand what your inner critic is and just how damaging its negative self-talk can be on your life. It’s important to acknowledge the impact your own harsh words can have on you in order to overcome them and to get out of your own way toward becoming your best self.
I trust you found value in the straight-forward and useful ways given to you here that will work towards overcoming your inner critic. Once you begin to implement these steps on a regular basis, you’ll begin to see that it’s easy to keep your naysayer at bay. You’ll be ready to take on more advanced strategies towards living the life of your dreams. Join the Beautiful You Coaching Community if you’d like help to identify just what that looks like so that you can move closer to making it a reality.
You may also find my 5-Minute Guide to Amazing Self-Talk helpful