Beat Negative Self Talk
How To Beat Negative Self-talk and Limiting Beliefs
A little self-criticism is a normal shared human mental pattern and can even be healthy for the most part. But we have to make sure that the negative flood gates don’t open where we’re criticizing everything we do, think, eat, etc.
If your negative voice is preventing you from doing what you want or need to do in your life, then it has to get booted back out the door. This kind of mental chatter has no right to set up shop in your mind.
Deeply held negative beliefs, especially when they’re firmly rooted in your unconscious, stress you out, damage relationships, and can greatly limit your potential for health and happiness.
If you’re sick of having the same old conversation with that “negative nelly” voice in your head, then be sure to try some of the ideas I’ve outlined in this article on how you can shift away from this damaging mindset, and finally release yourself of these limiting beliefs.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are the little, but persistent voices that convince you that you can’t be or do or have something due to a perceived inadequacy in some area of your life or personality.
Your negative nelly narrative usually goes something like this:
I won’t ever be [this]…
I can’t do [that]...
I don’t have [this]...
I don’t deserve to be/have [this]...
And, the most common one that comes up for many people…
I am not good enough.
Let’s change up the narrative you may have been having with yourself for a very long time!
Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing limiting beliefs
Your limiting decisions have shaped everything you do, and they have likely prevented you from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged you from trying some things at all. It can be like a type of internal imprisonment - done by your own thoughts!
The good news is that it’s totally possible to permanently change a long-held belief -- even the ones that are lifelong.
You only perceive what you believe, so your beliefs shape the very world you live in.
But, when your limiting beliefs come into question, your whole world can experience a shift for the better.
Here are a few ideas to help you silence your inner critic for good!
When you find yourself feeling “stuck” or repeatedly spinning your wheels on the same speed bumps that life might be throwing your way, it’s always a great idea to seek out the help and guidance of a life coach, counsellor or therapist.
In addition to that, there are several things you can do on your own, in your own time and space...
1. The first step to releasing limiting beliefs is to shift your thinking into AWARENESS
Time to bring those disempowering thoughts out of hiding! Once you do that, know that you have choice.
However, just simply being aware or having knowledge of them is not enough, it’s just the first step. You must understand and truly believe that you have a choice about how to react to stressful situations.
One of the most powerful things ever said to me to help me shift this awareness was: the beliefs I have are just stories I choose to believe.
It took me a few days to actually process this.
The beliefs you have are just stories that you choose to believe.
And so, it’s my duty to myself to analyze all of these beliefs and “stories” that I have within my mind. I must determine if they are truly things that I believe about myself or are they just things people have said to me that I’ve chosen to believe and hold on to; for better or worse.
2. Possible thinking, not just positive thinking
Your mind is a powerful thing, and when you fill it with thoughts of what’s possible (not just positive), your mindset will start to shift.
When you believe something IS possible, you will notice options and opportunities coming up for you that would simply not have be noticed if you did not believe it was possible.
With repetition, your positive feelings will intensify, the new neural connections will strengthen, and you’ll start to notice just how awesome this new “win” really feels!
Reminding yourself often of these little wins can further shift your mindset and help you embrace the bright side of your perceived “failures” or shortcomings. It also helps to simply accept that you are perfectly imperfect, just the way you are!
3. If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself
Your limiting beliefs are assumptions you make about reality that often aren’t true. They aren’t helpful, and they certainly don’t serve you or the goals you want to achieve.
Ask yourself: would I say these negative, hurtful and unsupportive words to a friend?
If we stop and think about all the negative talk that goes on in our mind, we would never talk like that to anyone else. Think about how your best friend would feel if everything you said to yourself you said to them? Would they still want to be your friend?
Realize that deep down you also feel a deep sense of hurt when you say these things to yourself. And then multiply that inner hurt by the years you’ve been alive. Self-punishment is one of the biggest barriers holding you back from living an empowered life. It must be attended to with kindness and deep self-compassion and forgiveness.
4. Adopting empowering beliefs
Sometimes playing a game with your mind can help the shift. Try adopting empowered beliefs such as:
“It is not my job to please everyone else.”
“Just be me. There will never be anyone else like me.”
“I am perfect with all my imperfections”
Convince yourself that the value you thought you were getting from the former limiting belief isn’t worthwhile, and that your new empowering belief can serve to fill this void.
5. Take some time and space that’s all yours
Ensure that you are creating space in your life for these new empowering beliefs. Take action and get into the habit of using your new beliefs as often as possible until they begin to feel comfortable, familiar and routine to you.
Just remember - you have the ability to harness the power of the possible! Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing yourself of limiting beliefs takes commitment, introspection and a good dose of self-confidence to make the necessary changes stick.
There’s the old saying that we view ourselves through a much harsher lens than the rest of world does. So, let’s try to bring our own lens back into focus.
Exercise on awarness
One of the best exercises I’ve done was from Louise Hay’s book: You Can Heal Your Life, originally published in 1984. This book changed my life and actually was a huge catalyst that put me on this path of health and healing for myself and others. [If you haven’t read this book, it’s a must!!]
Step 1: Start with a piece of paper and write out all of the limiting beliefs you have in your head or any of the negative things you say about yourself. Some examples could be: I’m not pretty enough. I’m too fat. I’m too skinny. I’m not smart enough. I’m too old. I’m too young. I don’t have enough money. It won’t last. I don’t have time. Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. You have to work super hard to be successful. Nobody loves me. Illness runs in the family. It’s all my fault.
Step 2: Take a separate piece of paper and write out all of the things your parents said were wrong about you. What were the negative messages you heard growing up? What did they say about love and relationships? Then expand this list to include what other negative things you heard from other family members, teachers, friends, authority figures, religion, etc.
Step 3: Now, just look objectively at all of these items and then compare the 2 lists. Notice how a lot (if not all) of them appear on both lists!?!
What you have on these 2 pieces of paper are all the thoughts that need to be removed from your consciousness. These are the very beliefs that you have that are making you feel “not good enough”.
Step 4: Go through each of the items on the first list and ask yourself: Is it true? It’s true if you believe it to be true and it’s not true if you believe it isn’t true.
Better questions to ask are: Is it true for me now? Where did that belief come from? Do I still believe it because (insert person’s name) said that to me? And the most important question: Would I be better off if I dropped that belief?
Next time your awareness brings you to a limiting belief, ask yourself these questions. And give yourself permission to let it go if it’s no longer serving you. Only you have the power to change your thoughts.
I know it’s not easy to just turn off the negative voice in your head. But the more you bring awareness to it the quieter the voice will become and then when negative thoughts come into your mind, you’ll be able to stop and assess them for what they are.
“Once you forgive yourself, the self-rejection in your mind is over. Self-acceptance begins, and the self-love will grow so strong that you will finally accept yourself just the way you are. That’s the beginning of the free human. Forgiveness is the key.” — Don Miguel Ruiz
Sending you extra love and support,
Health.com: 9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic
Thrive Global: What are Limiting Beliefs and What Causes Them?
IQ Matrix: The Complete Guide on How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs
Hay, Louise L. 1987. You can heal your life. Santa Monica, CA: Hay House.