Friday, March 9, 2012

Retro 6: Quick Summary of 3 Ways to Eliminate NST

If you want more information about any of these techniques, just look for cognitive restructuring, problem-solving and detachment and you'll come up with more posts about each and all of these techniques to eliminate negative self-talk.

 Here's an article I wrote for a Syracuse University health newsletter. I'm publishing it here and now, early 2012 as a good, quick reminder of the basics of eliminating negative self-talk and as a reminder of the roots of this blog: the book project, "Handbook #1 for Intelligent Women: Break the Negative Self-Talk Habit."

The September 30th Live U article in “Mind”, focused on negative self–talk — a useless habit that keeps us stuck, feeling miserable. Those ugly thoughts blast us, ”I’m not good enough,” or ask, “What’s wrong with me?” Regardless of whether you call that inner voice your critic, a demon, or the pain in the neck, it creates stress, reduces confidence, and decreases productivity. Now is the time to kick the habit.

Here are three major skills you can practice. Research supports the effectiveness of all three in combating self-sabotage. What works best for you?

• Cognitive restructuring is psycho-babble for changing what you’re thinking and saying to yourself.
1. Alter the thought from negative to neutral/realistic. E.g. “I’m making this situation even worse. What an idiot,” to “I’m managing this tough situation. It’s OK.”
2. Visualize a STOP sign blocking the voice of the critic. Imagine yourself turning down the volume on the negative thoughts or feel the inner critic’s words evaporate into space, like steam from boiling water.
3. Use a short robotic repetition of a comforting and realistic thought to drown out the voice of self-criticism: “I will be fine.” “ I’m doing OK,” or “ I can do this.”

• Problem-solving thinking produces another proven way to reduce the stress of NST.
1.      Ask. Do I have some control over the situation that’s the focus of negative self-talk? Work problems, appearance issues, relationships?
2.       If you have control, then identify the problem, gather some information, generate possible solutions, try one out and evaluate. It’s a cyclical process, so if your solution didn’t work, try another one. If you have no control over the situation, move on to skill three, detachment or letting go.

• Detachment moves you away from nasty NST and the resulting bummed out feelings.
  1.  Notice the voice in your head, without judgment or reaction. If you hear instructional, neutral self-talk, pay attention. If it’s negative self-talk, say to yourself, “Oh, the critic is talking,” rather than, “When am I going to stop dumping on myself all the time?”
  2.  Remind yourself that NST can be discarded with no loss or harm.
  3.  Shift attention away from the internal negative thinking to the external moment and action. If you are walking or talking, writing or reading, staring out the window, purposefully spend attention on anything but the inner voice. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness experience help in getting to this slightly altered state of consciousness.
  4.  When the voice of the critic arises again, demanding attention, reallocate attention back to here and now. Let the critic voice fade from inattention, and diminish as before.

Recent neuroscience research says breaking a habit is harder than previously believed, but it can be done. The old NST habit has to be weakened before the new realistic thinking habit can be acquired, so start now. Leave negative self-talk far behind when you graduate!"

And for blog readers, leave negative self-talk far behind, now or soon in 2012!

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