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Tips to Reduce Negative Self-Talk

Patterns of negative thinking and 'self-talk' can begin in early childhood or young adulthood; our self-talk habits can affect our experiences, our thinking, our outlook and even our future experiences. But the pathways ingrained the brain that cause negative feelings or self-talk don't have to be permanent - in fact, the most interesting theoretical concepts of neuroscience suggest that we can re-map our brain's thinking patterns to a more positive outlook and practie healthy self-talk on a daily basis.

What is 'self-talk'?

Self-talk is simply our thinking process and our conscious thoughts. Whenever you berate yourself or put yourself down, that's an example of negative self talk. Similarily, whenever you push yourself to be positive or become calm, you're practicing positive self-talk. It's exactly what the phrase sounds like - talking to yourself.

But the intricate psychology behind self-talk goes a little deeper than 'talking to yourself'. It's defined, in health and science, as patterns and ways of thinking. Those who are accustomed to putting themselves down or have low self esteem probably won't even notice how little they think of themselves and the lengths of their negative self-talk. Luckily, patterns in the brain can re-map and adapt; you can change your negative self-talk traits simply by trying a few of the following techniques.

Thought-Stopping

This is the most useful and straight forward way to eliminate negative self-talk. Whenever you notice yourself saying something negative in your mind, stop your thought process mid-stream by voicing or mentally shouting "stop". You can also try adjusting your thoughts if you find you can't stop the thought pattern; think about the words you use and how you can change them, for example, instead of using the word hate replace it with a less weaker word, such as dislike, to reduce feelings of negativity.

Elastic Band Snap

Keep an elastic band around your wrist. If you notice negative self-talk, pull the band and let it snap back on your skin. It'll hurt a little, but it works as a conditioning tool to help you associate negative thoughts with the mild discomfort, and distract you from the negative thoughts you're having.

Change Self-Limiting Statements

Whenever you say "I can't do this!", try to adjust your thought pattern as a question. Instead of "I can't do this," force yourself to think "how can I do this?" and allow your mind to explore opportunities and possibilities rather than dwelling over a self-imposed dead end. In any kind of negative self-talk, you're best bet is to readjust your thinking pattern slightly to a more positive thought process - and that can be as simple as asking questions to yourself rather than putting yourself down, or subsituting a few strong words.

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