Careful! How You Talk To You Matters!
So, as I mentioned last week, my goal is to blog once a week and I even made myself a topic schedule to help me along. This week’s focus is to be on a particular disorder and, wow, was it difficult to pick one. But, I was able to find inspiration on facebook!
Let’s talk about anxiety, shall we.
This video showed up in my facebook feed and I was riveted. Truly. It was stirring. This woman's candid discussion of the insidious way that anxiety creeps into your life is something that I think everyone should see...
Her story highlights the immense importance of examining your self-talk when it comes to managing anxiety (and really, just in general).
Self-talk is a story that we tell ourselves. The story of who we are and of any situation in which we find ourselves. It impacts all of our experiences; how we feel about ourselves, how we view our capabilities, what we think other people think of us. It impacts our self-confidence, self-esteem, body image, and our overall sense of who we are.
Whenever I work with parents, I always caution them: be very careful what you tell your children about themselves, because your voice will become their inner voice. Much of what we believe about who we are, we learned from our earliest caregivers. But they aren’t the only ones who can shape our self-talk. As described in the video, our self-talk can also be shaped by the people with whom we engage in intimate relationships, the ones with whom we are our most vulnerable. They have the ability to make us question everything we think and believe about ourselves, and if we're not paying attention, we can get lost.
The negative self-talk related to anxiety is particularly insidious because it’s so subtle that you don’t even realize you’ve had a thought at all. It then impacts your mood and you don’t really know what has happened or why. People with anxiety often describe feeling “crazy” or “out of control,” and these automatic messages tend to be the culprit. Negative self-talk drives avoidance and disconnection, and it can even trigger or exacerbate panic attacks. It convinces you that the thing you fear is not just possible, not just probable, but inevitable.
The good news is that negative self-talk can be combated. You can fight this thing by becoming aware and taking concrete steps to counter these thoughts. Negative self-talk is not a trait you’re born with, it is a series of bad habits that you have the power to turn around. No one comes into this world with these thought patterns that promote anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, chronic stress and burnout. Just as you can replace bad behavioral habits with more positive ones, you can replace bad cognitive habits with more positive ones.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn how to counter your negative self-talk. That is, recognizing the fearful message your self-talk is sending and responding to it with positive, supportive messages. As with most things, writing it down makes it real and practicing it makes it automatic. By starting to notice when you’re veering towards negativity and then countering those thoughts with positivity, you will begin to see your life and yourself in a different light. Try coming up with phrases that are not blandly general, but ones that directly refute the specific messages your negative self-talk is prone to sending. And go easy on yourself! You will not do this perfectly. It took time for you to create this habit and it will take time to change it. But know that you are worth the effort!
If you're interested, this is an excellent book on managing negative self-talk to improve your life. Click here: