negative self-talk

Do you know your ABC’s? How to Control Negative Self-Talk

Everyone has an inner dialogue that runs day and night signaling what to do, what to say, and how to feel. Most of time, people just go through the day unaware of the impact their inner thoughts have on their everyday behavior.

Though, what we say to ourselves has serious ramifications, particularly if the thoughts are critical, worrisome, and victimizing.

You probably don’t notice many of the thoughts you’re reacting to because they’ve become automatic. They arrive spontaneously and can be tough to recognize. Thoughts can be like tapes playing over and over in your head, and when negative, can tell you things like, “you’re not good enough,” “you’ll never get over this problem,” and “what if something horrible happens?”
If this sounds familiar, it’s likely that these self-defeating thought patterns have been a part of your self-identity for a long time. They’re just like a bad habit you can’t seem to break, and maybe don’t really recognize you’re engaging in half the time. They seem to be a part of who you are, and how you interact with the world.

Don’t let your inner-critic control who you are and what you can become. These thoughts are often irrational, and don’t have much ground in reality. Think about how much of the worrying you do actually comes to fruition?  For most people, it’s not much.
“I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain
It’s time to tame your gremlin and manage that inner critic?

Separate thinking, feeling, and acting

Recognize when you have limiting and critical thoughts, and accept you’re going to feel anxious, inadequate, and uncertain at first. Begin to understand this connection between thinking and feeling, and break the identification with the feelings that accompany negative thoughts.
You need to recognize how these thoughts make you feel and pay attention to the physical sensations that accompany these destructive thoughts and emotions. This can mean paying attention to your bodily reaction first. How does your body change? Do you get butterflies in your stomach of feel nauseous? Does your heart rate increase and palms start to sweat?
This can be easier than noticing your thoughts, as thoughts can be automatic.

Most importantly, separate your behavior from thinking. Don’t let feelings of inadequacy prevent you from taking action and moving forward in life. Don’t immediately react to your thoughts. Be willing to separate the irrational thought from what is really going on, before reacting and jumping to conclusions.

Learning to recognize how thinking, feeling, and acting influence each other, helps you to develop emotional awareness, and to start monitoring and managing negative thoughts and behaviors.

Teach yourself a new way of thinking: “Challenge” negative thoughts

Use the ABC model to help manage your thoughts and feelings
A = Actual Event: State the actual situation that brought on the emotional state.
B = Beliefs: Describe your thoughts and beliefs about the situation that created these emotions and behaviors.
C = Challenge: Dispute the negative thoughts and replace them with accurate and positive statements.
It’s time to realize that the thoughts you have are driving you life. You have been habitually thinking yourself into your current situation, and probably don’t believe you can change the way you feel.

Though, this can be done by recognizing the thoughts you’re having and replacing any negative thoughts with more positive statements. When you start to notice your bodies’ reaction to anxious and detrimental thinking, you can start to become present, consider how you want to react, take a step back, relax, and rationalize what’s really going on. This is where the “Challenge” step comes into play.

Start to counter negative self-talk with questioning and supportive statements.
If you experience critical, worrying, or victimizing thoughts, ask yourself, “What is the evidence for this?” “Am I being fair and objective with this thought?”
If you can realize the foolishness in your previous negative thought, then provide a counter-thought, or positive statement to replace the negative thought.
Pay close attention to your triggers
Start noticing the thoughts you’re having, and write down any that cause worry, anxiety, or distress. You may have to keep a log or diary to gain the necessary self-awareness to make serious progress.

After you capture the thought in writing, consider:
What was the trigger for this thought?
How did it make me feel?
How did I react?

Pay attention to what you’re doing and who you’re with when the negative thinking emerges. This will help you gain insight into those people and places that can prompt self-limiting thoughts.

Again, provide an alternative way you could experience the situation, write down your counterstatement and REHEARSE!

Keep focusing on healthy positive statement and begin training your thinking patterns to change the way you feel. This will ultimately start to change the way you act and the activities you pursue. Notice how these new thoughts make you feel, and the new quality of life that is emerging.

It may take awhile, but eventually these new thoughts will make you feel more confident, assured, and resilient. With awareness and practice you can start to discredit your negative thinking, and recognize you were meant to feel good and be great.

Bio: Joe is an entrepreneur and coach who manages the blog Shake off the Grind, where he helps people find success through the up’s and downs of life. You can also find Joe on Twitter.

Don’t forget to follow PTB on Twitter!

28 Responses to Do you know your ABC’s? How to Control Negative Self-Talk

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Do you know your ABC’s? How to Control Negative Self-Talk | PickTheBrain | Motivation and Self Improvement --

  2. Sandra Lee says:

    How true – the negative self talk is on automatic! This looks like a great system to reverse it. I like the idea of supportive statements and tuning into one’s triggers.

  3. I think Stephen Covey explains this very well.
    “We human are “responsible” for our own thoughts and actions.

    But looking at “Responsible” we see “Respons-able”. We have the power to control our own responses to situations” – not an exact quote of Stephen Covey 😉

    Most of this is controlling our thoughts and as you say, that little gremlin in our heads.

  4. Being able to distinguish between external events and internal workings is very important. Changing your beliefs and the meanings you apply allows you to totally change your experience of it.

  5. Great article Joe. I took away some great insights from the post that I will incorporate into my Life Coaching work.

    When I’m tempted to think negative thoughts I always go back to asking better questions. I realize that simply having a negative thought on my mind, means that I am focusing on things that I don’t want, and this therefore further suggests that I am asking limiting questions.

    The moment I transform the questions I am asking myself is the moment I redirect my focus and start looking for solutions and answers — not problems.

    BTW, I love the new redesign of PTB :)

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  7. Awesome article!! I love these principles. Negative thoughts are the minds poison.

  8. M. A. Tohami says:

    “Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” ~Voltaire

    We can definitely manage the negative thoughts that surround us and create our own support systems.

    Thanks for the nice post.

  9. This is great. I agree that negative talks are automatic. I guess it’s human nature that we have negative thoughts. I think this is our mind’s antibodies. Like antibodies, they protect the system. Our body tries to reject anything unfamiliar, hence getting sick. Same goes with our minds, we think negative because probably our mind finds something as a threat, therefore the mind gives us a bad scenario to help us prepare for the actual situation. :) I guess, one way you can avoid, if not completely eliminate (as it would be impossible), is to process it as just an option. Tell yourself that you should always take the high road and not be affected by these negative thoughts.

    P.S. Here’s an article on Building Confidence and Not Looking for Guarantees in Life Hope this would inspire you also. :)

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  11. Craig says:

    Thank you for this insightful post, which was very helpful for me. In particular I appreciate your pointing out the importance of feeling our physical sensations and relating with the body. I find this to be very important when working with negativity, and in my life in general.

    When I’m in negative self talk my “mental muscle” is particularly weak, and it’s not easy to “get my head around” my thoughts and change them. But by feeling my body, breathing, it helps me come back down to earth, where it’s much easier to then tune back in with reality, the present moment, and automatically I see more clearly.

  12. Melvin says:

    Hi Joe and everyone,

    Have been said a lot to replace negative thinking with positive thinking but here is a clear and complete guide on how to do it. Congratulations Joe. I only want to share two tips; one thing you can do to challenge your negative thinking is, when you have a negative feeling ask your self why I get affected by this… this way you rationalize and discover there is no good reason to get affected. Also you can ask your self, how I want to feel the rest of my life, unhappy or happy, this way you will realize that no thing worth feeling bad…


  13. The Vizier says:

    This is a great article Joe! Thanks so much for sharing. Many of us are just so unaware of how our negative self-talk affects our lives. In fact I struggled with it myself as I tried to overcome my negative perception of failure. We need more reminders like this.

  14. We all have to take defeats in life.

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  16. David says:

    It often helps to put some emotion into it too, and then it become much stronger.

  17. Evan says:

    That may just be the best article I’ve ever read. Oh, and I read a lot. It IS self development. It might just be all some people need. ABC. Beautiful. Succint. One to print out and read every day. Unbelievable.
    Thank you, anyone who is lucky enough to stumble upon this is very lucky indeed.

  18. Stephanie says:

    Living, Loving, Laughing starts when the the negativity stops ! :)

  19. Hamid says:

    Wow…… I’ll be grateful to you forever since this moment for these awsome tips to battle negative self-talk, you were just RIGHT! what we think ends up at our lips! well its time to change and become who we indeed want to be, Thank you again!

  20. Pingback: How to Overcome Negativity Bias | Adventures in Positive Psychology

  21. Caelii says:

    You have shed a ray of shnusine into the forum. Thanks!

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  23. Maro says:

    Thanks joe for this awsome article i realy like gives me new insight in life

  24. Pingback: Dealing with our negative self-talk

  25. Swaroopa says:

    It’s a great article to train brain.

  26. Davamani_2004 says:

    i am not only having this problem

  27. laloo73 says:

    I love this!

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