Negative self-talk is not the vibe we're looking for this year.
Updated: Feb 22, 2022
It's time to serve an eviction notice on your negative self-talk, babe.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I remember that I'm still single. Thankfully, I no longer lament my singleness, because let’s be real, a purposeful single life is a damn good one. Real ones know. Whether or not you’re single or coupled up, remember that you may have loved ones who still feel really shitty about their singleness. Be kind, and if you can afford it, send them a gift for that day. Speaking of kindness, let’s talk about why the thought of doing this for someone excites you, yet you never think to do the same for yourself.
Who taught you how to be unkind to yourself?
The past decade has been mentally taxing for millennials and every generation after us. Not to make social media the scapegoat, but connecting with strangers and divulging personal details with them, brings out the worst in everyone. This worst is a cesspit of comparison, covet, envy, and hatred. For many people, these afflicting emotions and their accompanying self-talk are latent. While for others, these emotions are vibrant, openly shared in comment sections with much vitriol.
In conversations with ourselves and sometimes others, we build narratives that affirm the worst things:
You are not doing it [whatever it is] right.
Time is running out; go faster.
That desire or need that you have is invalid.
Something is off about how you process things.
You are not enough.
On a surface level, affirming any of the narratives above can make you cynical, doubtful, fearful, and lethargic. If you wallow in cynicism, doubt, fear, and lethargy, you may find yourself struggling with addiction, anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders that make life even more difficult.
We do not deny how pervasive mental disorders are across all communities. If you or someone that you know struggles with mental health, we encourage you to seek help from a licensed professional who can help you to navigate your thoughts and feelings better than any blog post ever can.
3 practical ways to manage your negative self-talk
1. Slow down time when your negative self-talk starts
Everything takes time, and nothing good comes fast. If you struggle with negative self-talk, you may notice that affirmations are slow to arrive. If you are not in tune with your thoughts and emotions, that negative self-talk goes from a fleeting thought to a pit of rumination.
The best thing to do when negative thoughts and feelings come quickly is to remain present with them. There is nothing wrong with thinking negative thoughts or experiencing their emotions. You are a human being who lives in a complicated world, so anything can trigger them.
Once you remain present, try to establish what prompted them, then counter with a thought or emotion that creates a more amenable state for you. That is not the easiest thing to do! However, with practice, you will become more self-aware and equanimous.
2. Talk to yourself as you would a best friend
Your relationship with yourself is the most important one you'll have in this lifetime. As we all know, communication is a crucial component in sustaining any positive and nurturing relationship. If you love your best friend (and we know you do), it is naturally difficult to say things that hurt their feelings. Let's be honest, it wouldn't cross your mind to say to your best friend "you're not enough", "you can't get that director position", or "if you lost weight, you'd look prettier." At least I hope not! So ask yourself, "why would I speak to myself that way?" Although this is a loaded question that's a topic for another article, here are some steps you can implement to slow down negative chatter and create a positive narrative.
Headspace is a great app that provides mediation techniques that help to improve your self-esteem. They introduced an exercise called noting where every time you find yourself thinking, you gently note and label the thought as thinking or feeling. Then, you come back to the present moment. The purpose of this is to help you move towards less judgmental self-talk by creating distance to observe negative and self-critical thoughts. After a few days, you may become less attached to your thoughts and find it easier to live in the present. Personally, this has worked wonders for me! My days are more satisfying as I now have the mental space to nurture the positive things going on in my life.
If meditation and apps aren't quite your thing, try affirmations instead. In our world, it's easy to notice everything that is wrong, I get it. Affirming yourself when things are mundane, regular, and great goes a long way. Here are a few examples:
Thought: "I'm never going to make more money. My career is stalling."
Better thought: "With each new job, I end up making more money. The next job opportunity will be no different and I'll ask for an even higher salary."
Thought: "I'm never going to look as good as I did in my 20s."
Better thought: "Bodies naturally change over time, and with a small change in my diet and more exercise, I can look my best with where I'm at in my life today."
A quantum leap is not the goal with this technique. The key here is to tell yourself a better story that is still possible so that you can become more optimistic about what's to come.
3. Give yourself time to grow
A person with a green thumb knows that plants do not grow overnight. First, you plant the seed in fertile soil. Then, you water the seed as necessary and give it adequate sunlight daily. You leave the seed planted in the soil and give it time to grow. Every living organism on this planet, including human beings, has a process like seeds. If you can be patient with a plant, cat, or dog, certainly you can extend the same grace to yourself, no? Prioritize yourself.
It’s still a New Year, so we can continue to set simple yet powerful goals for ourselves to make this year what we want it to be. Here at Ailani, we are all about intentionality, manifestation, and good vibes. We also love a good skinimalist skincare bundle that has adaptogen supplements, but that’s neither here nor there. Negative self-talk never passes our vibe check. So if you struggle with it, come back to this post whenever you need a reminder to prioritize and love yourself!