Negative Thinking: A Luxury You Can’t Afford

It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” – Dale Carnegie

We’re all prone to putting ourselves down from time to time. We may tell ourselves a few discouraging words about what we see int he mirror, how we performed at work, or the impression we think we made in a social situation. When that negative self-talk becomes habitual, we’re setting ourselves up for a poor sel-image, and even depression: if everything we do is a failure, why bother trying to do anything? That attitude can lead to withdrawal, and retreat into food, alcohol, or other addcitive self-soothing behaviors. And that will surely lead to more negative self-talk.

If you find that you frequently burden yourself with discoraging words, it’s time to break that habit. Start by simply observing your thoughts and the way you talk to yourself. Once you learn the nature of your negative self-talk, you can begin to reality-test those negative statements.  Ask yourself the following questions:

1) Is this self-statement really true, and if so, is it true all the time?

2) What evidence do I have that this thought is true?

3) What are the costs and benefits of believing this?

4) Am I looking at the whole picture?

5) Would I say this to a friend?

6) Is this statement at all useful – that is, can it lead to an action plan to make improvements, or is it just a put-down?

As an example of this last question, “I’m a loser and no one will ever like me” is a dead-end, useless statement. “I’m not happy with my social life and I’d like to do something about it” is reasonable, and it gives you something to work with.

Negative self-talk is useless, and it holds us back rather than motivating us to move forward. Change your thoughts and you can change your life.