Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Expose the negative voice in your head!

Imagine two men sitting in congested traffic during the rush hour.  The first man starts to feel trapped, and says to himself “I’m so angry I could scream,” “This is really going to destroy my day,” “Why does this always happen to me?”  As a result he feels anxious, angry and frustrated.

The second man though, sees the traffic as an opportunity to relax and put on a new CD.  He thinks to himself “I might as well unwind now until the traffic eases,” or “Finally I can stretch my aching neck and relax.”  As a result this man feels a sense of inner peace and acceptance.

In both cases, the men faced the identical situation, but the feelings expressed were very different.  Why?  This is because of internalised monologue or what is mostly referred to as self talk. 

If you usually engage in negative self-talk you may be one or more of the following types:
  • The Worrier: 
This type of self talk promotes anxiety by imagining the worst case scenario. 

It also tends to overestimate the odds of something bad or embarrassing happening.  For instance, [“What if they laugh and stare at me for being fat at the party?”]  The worrier also creates grandiose images of potential failure or catastrophe happening, [“What if I shake when I’m giving the speech and make a fool of myself?”] 
  • The Perfectionist:
Perfectionist type of self talk promotes chronic stress and burnout. 

It generates anxiety by constantly telling you that your efforts are not good enough, that you should have everything under control and that you should be constantly working harder, [“I should always be the best.”]  A perfectionist will determine their self worth according to things external to them such as money, achievements and acceptance by others. 
  • The Victim:
The Victim form of self talk plays a big role in creating depression. 

The victim holds negative beliefs such as [“I’m hopeless”].  An individual plagued with this type of self talk believes that in some way they are defective or unworthy as human beings.  This type of self talk increases the propensity to give up in life, [I’ll never be a success, so what’s the point in trying?”] 
  • The Critic:
This type of self talk promotes low self esteem. 

The critic tends to constantly point out your flaws and limitations whenever possible.  It jumps on any mistake you make to prove that you’re a failure, whilst ignoring your strengths and positive qualities.  A favourite expression of the critic is [“What a disappointment you are!” or “That was stupid of you.”]  The critic may be the voice of your critical mother or father, a dreaded teacher, or anyone who wounded you in the past with their criticism.

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