Friday, September 30, 2011

Brief Review of What Is, Why Is Negative Self-Talk — And How to Get Rid of It

Long-time readers from around the world understand the concept of negative self-talk and may already have taken the challenge to eliminate it. Other readers may know alot about NST from other sources or experiences. Here's the framework I use to think, speak and write about it.

As a psychologist and therapist as well as executive coach I quickly discovered that many intelligent, high-achieving women indulged in negative self-talk. It became a habit that they were reluctant to break. They were unwilling to accept that NST was harmful. It creates stress which then decreases productivity and self-confidence, which creates more NST, which creates more inner stress — on and on the cycle repeats itself. My work in progress book, Handbook #1 for Intelligent Women: Break the Negative Self-Talk Habit, addresses the issue in a very clear, direct, research-based approach. It's aimed at intelligent, thinking, high-achieving women, who "get it."

• What is negative self-talk?

It's the inner voice that tells you in many different words and ways that "I'm not OK," or asks "What is wrong with you?" A majority of women between teens and their fifties have the negative self-talk habit. By age 60 they have learned that it's a waste of time.

• Why do women start and continue the habit?

They may start it by imitating mothers, sisters, friends when they are in their teens, not realizing it's potentially an obstacle to their success. A secondary gain may come from saying the NST aloud and being reinforced. E.g. "I handled that conflict like an idiot. You'd think I'd learn." " That's not true Susan. I thought you dealt well with the group."

They continue the habit, because they don't recognize that NST is harmful and because it has become locked into their brain in the same way that any addictive habit develops a highly trafficked pathway with no detours or dead ends.

• How Can Women Eliminate the Habit?

• Determine if you have it
• Accept that it is an impediment to your success at work, at home, in all relationships
• Take the challenge to break the habit
• Use research based techniques work: not every technique will work for everyone, but one or more of the three primary categories will work., over time and with effort. It's a habit.

                 Cognitive Restructuring

This weekend, if this fits for you and you haven't yet started to get rid of your NST, just notice your inner voice and if it's negative self-talk, make a small, achievable plan to start dumping it. Hint: Positive thinking doesn't do the job, but realistic thinking is useful.

e.g NST. "I really don't know anything about how to move this project forward, but I'll stumble on I guess."

      PST. "I know I'll do a great job getting this  project completed successfully."
      RST. "I'll plan to ramp up the amount of time invested daily in order to get this project completed successfully."
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