Those that suffer from anxiety disorders in all its forms can find much relief by learning to recognize negative self talk.
Coping with anxiety by diffusing negative self talk is easy once you learn how.
Today we’ll look at negative self talk and what to do about it.
What is Negative Self Talk?
Our minds have an inner dialogue going on nearly all the time. I used to refer to my negative inner dialogue as the Itty Bitty Shi@@y Committee in my head. Those of us with anxiety disorders (agoraphobia, GAD, social anxiety, panic disorder, OCD) usually have a lot of negative self talk running through our minds. Negative self talk can be very loud and overbearing when you are stressed about or in an anxiety triggering situation.
The negatives also come on strong when we are in a HALTS situation –when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Sick.
Some examples of negative self talk may include:
- Oh my God, here it comes again. I hate this.
- If the teacher calls on me, I’ll just die.
- If I stand in that line I’m going to be trapped.
- They’re going to notice me panicking, I’ll make a fool of myself.
- I’m such a coward
Thoughts like these can run rampant in your mind, and left to their own devices, only serve to make you feel miserable on top of being anxious. This is self sabotage, and nothing useful can possibly come of it. So what can you do?
The first step in eliminating negative self talk is to recognize when you’re having it.
Erase and Replace
Erase and Replace is a technique I learned about 20 years ago. Basically it means erasing the negative self talk by replacing it with positive self talk. The key to using erase and replace effectively is to replace the negatives with positives that are realistic and believable.
If you replaced “Oh my God, here it comes again. I hate this!” with “Fantastic! Here it comes again. I love this!”– you probably wouldn’t buy it for a millisecond. I know I wouldn’t 😉
It more realistic and believable to think: Ok, so I can feel a panic attack coming on. I won’t die… I can let it pass.
Here are realistic and believable responses to replace the negative self talk examples:
Erase: If the teacher calls on me, I’ll just die.
Replace with: The teacher may or may not call on me. I may feel anxious, but I’ll be ok.
Erase: If I stand in that line I’m going to be trapped.
Replace with: I can choose to stand in line. If I feel overwhelmed, I can excuse myself at any time.
Erase:They’re going to notice me panicking, I’ll make a fool of myself.
Replace with: People are way more interested in themselves. They probably wont notice I’m scared and if they do, it’s no big deal. I’ll be alright.
Erase: I’m such a coward
Replace with: I’m doing the best that I can today.
Using Positive affirmations
Positive affirmations can be used in conjunction with Erase and Replace to diffuse negative self talk. Positive affirmations are wonderful things you tell yourself again and again, like a mantra, until they become the self talk. The power of positive affirmations is widely recognized, and they absolutely help lessen anxiety in all its forms.
Here are some positive affirmations for people with anxiety :
- I’m a powerful competent man/woman.
- Every day in every way I’m becoming stronger.
- I am loved, cherished and valuable.
You get the picture. To be really effective, write down 3-5 positive affirmations that really feel good to you and repeat them over and over and over again. Commit them to memory. Tape them next to your bathroom mirror and put a copy of them in your desk at work.
With a little bit of practice, these healing, positive affirmations will replace some of that negative self talk and become the new positive messages you send to yourself all throughout your day.
Coping with negative self talk is as easy as identifying it, using Erase and Replace, and developing a mental list of positive affirmations.
I wish you peace,