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I Feel Too Much

The behaviours that come about as a result of negative self-talk are often related to stress, anxiety, and fear.

The behaviours that come about as a result of negative self-talk are often related to stress, anxiety, and fear. The counter to this negative internal dialogue or negative subjective thinking is to think more objectively, to focus more on the facts and the bigger picture rather than base our assumptions on emotive experiences.

If I am saying to myself “I feel this” or “I feel that”, then I am most likely seeing things from a subjective perspective, which will respectively influence strong emotions, motivations and my behaviours.

Example “I feel like I am going to do badly in the test this afternoon”, and my automatic thought might be “What if I fail?” I might then be less motivated to do the test at all, I might feel anxious and worried, which will no doubt get in the way of my performance.

Can we base anything on a feeling? Feelings aren’t true they are just feelings. 

However, if I rephrase my internal statements to reflect a more objective, realistic perspective then there is room for manoeuvre.  

Rephrase “I am thinking that I feel nervous about this test; however, I am going to stay focused and do my best”. So here I acknowledge the feeling, then distance myself by acknowledging that I am ‘thinking’ about it; which leaves room for me to have some positive influence over my motivation and my behaviour.

“YES, BUT! I didn’t do so well last time” I hear you say. Well even though you might have some evidence to support that thought has been true in the past, I promise you will also be able to find evidence to support it not being true, at least most of the time.

Here are a few other ways to challenge your negative self-talk script and to use your ability to think more logically to help you make good choices, gain confidence, and perform better.

  • Listen critically to what you are saying to yourself and how you are saying it - When self-talk is full of critical and discouraging words, press the STOP button and try to think about how you can change it.
  • Distance yourself from - me, myself and I - Using phrases like “Why am I so stressed?” or “need to be better?” may increase feelings of shame or anxiety.  Using your own name, or a second or third-person pronoun when referring to your situation.  Asking yourself, “Why are you feeling so stressed?” is one way to create the psychological distance you need to bring your emotions down and help you to regulate them.
  • Tailor your self-talk to your goals - Some research indicates that different types of self-talk work best for specific goals. Instructional self-talk like “shoulders back” or “keep your head up” helps you to improve your technique. Whilst motivational self-talk such as “you can do this,” or “keep going,” can help build confidence, strength, or endurance.
  • Be kind to yourself - Negative discouraging self-talk is only going to increase your stress and hold you back. So instead try to find some tenderness and speak compassionately to yourself, the same way you might speak to a friend.

Changing a negative message to a positive - “I’m no good at this” can become “I am prepared to give this a try.”

Encouraging self-talk will help you to be better able to cope with adversity, to meet challenges and do things that will contribute to greater success.