Negative self talk is a major contributor to general anxiety - I know, I use to do it! But you can overcome this bad habit, and it's easier than you might think.
So what is negative self talk? I would define it something like this:
"It is the constant mental chatter that we engage in on a regular basis, that has become so habituated that we often don't even notice we are doing it. This self talk is not in alignment with our true inner being, but has been created as a result of long-held fears and beliefs."
These thoughts produce feelings, and not the other way around. I love this quote from Louise Hay, which sums it up perfectly: "...if you don't have the thought, you won't have the feeling. And thoughts can be changed. Change the thought, and the feeling must go."
Try this little exercise by saying this to yourself - "Everything goes wrong for me. I always have such bad luck! I can't trust anyone and I get ripped off all the time! My health is always poor, and I'll probably die of some horrible disease!"
Does it make you feel uncomfortable? You probably didn't want to say it at all. This example is a bit extreme, but it demonstrates that words are not just words - they have an energy and a vibration just like everything else. And they will affect your mood and your own energy vibration.
So can you imagine the effect that constant negative self talk can have on you over a period of time? It not only affects your emotions, but can also manifest into physical symptoms. After all, thoughts and emotions are energy just like everything else, and the low vibrations of ongoing negative self talk will sap your vitality and can lead to anxiety symptoms.
Obviously, we all say negative things to ourselves sometimes - it's normal. It's impossible to expect to think only positive thoughts on a constant basis. The occasional negative thought is nothing to be concerned about.
But when your negative self talk exceeds the positive, it's time to take action!
I once read a great quote on my desk calendar many years ago, and I tore it off and have kept it till this day. It really struck a chord with me. It said "Worry is usually a lot of trouble that never happens".
How true that is! How many things have you spent time worrying about, all for nothing.
Negative self talk of the worrying kind usually starts with a phrase like "What if .......?" Statements like this always presume the worst is likely to happen. "What if I have a heart attack, like my father did?", or "What if I make a mistake on this project? It will be really embarrassing and I could get fired!"
This sort of talk promotes anxiety because you are scaring yourself by imagining such impending disaster, and your body responds by creating the symptoms associated with fear and constant stress. See my pages on the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety and Psychological Signs of Anxiety for more information about these bodily reactions.
2. Feeling like a Victim
The victim mentality creates anxiety because your negative self talk tells you that you have no control over your circumstances, and you and your life are pretty much jinxed.
This self talk is filled with moaning, complaining, and blaming everyone and everything else for the way your life is. The victim takes no responsibility for themselves, and doesn't believe things will ever change. Phrases such as "Nobody ever appreciates me. I do all the work around here, and what thanks do I get?", or "I feel unwell again today. Why do I always catch everyone's viruses - it's not fair!"
3. Being a Perfectionist
The negative self talk of a perfectionist tells you that you and the things you do are not good enough, and the word "should" is used a lot. This creates anxiety by pushing you to your limits of physical and mental tolerance, which results in ongoing stress and fatigue.
This kind of self talk convinces you that your worthiness is based upon things that you do or have, such as career, money, the love and acceptance of others, or being the perfect wife and mother.
Perfectionist self talk says things like "I should always be organised and have things under control" or "I have to get this promotion, or I'll look like an idiot."
4. Constantly Criticising Yourself
Negative self talk that is constantly criticising you can create anxiety because it focuses on all of your perceived flaws and weaknesses and ignores your good qualities. It constantly puts you down, and makes you believe that you are generally a useless human being.
The inner critic would say things like "You're always making mistakes - you are so dumb!" or "You are so fat! Why can't you be slim like so-and-so?" Critical self talk also likes to compare you to others, with you being the loser.
The majority of self talk takes place so quickly and habitually that we don't even notice we are doing it. But even though you may not consciously be totally absorbed in your mind chatter, your subconscious mind is taking it all in. And the subconscious mind just accepts everything you tell it, and responds accordingly. (You can go to my page on Self Talk for more detailed information.)
As stated earlier, thoughts produce feelings and emotions. It is never the other way around. However, sometimes it may feel as though certain emotions then cause you to think a certain way, but that is just because negative thoughts attract more negative thoughts, and so on it goes.
Even though your self talk may be irrational, such as many of the statements made by the Worrier, your body responds as if it were really true. So if you are constantly having thoughts of bad things happening to you, you will create the negative emotions such as fear, anger, disappointment, etc, even if the circumstances have not actually occurred.
These emotions then produce reactions in the body associated with stress and anxiety, and these build up to high and chronic levels when you get into the ongoing habit of negative self talk.
Thoughts and emotions also have an energy (since everything in the Universe is made up of energy, including us). Negative thoughts and emotions have a low energy vibration, and so will drag down your vitality and the vibration of your entire being.
This reduces your capacity to attract good things to you, as you can only attract things to you that are in alignment with your own vibration. So if the energy frequency of your body (made up of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) is being dragged down by negative thoughts and emotions, then your outer world may appear to be pretty gloomy.
This then feeds your negative self talk, and a self-perpetuating downward cycle begins.
You can change this bad habit, because that's all it is. You have gotten yourself into the pattern of thinking so many bad thoughts. It can take time, because you've probably being doing this for years.
But I have broke my own negative thought habit, so I know it is very achievable.
Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time - and this is nothing to be concerned about. Worrying about every less-than-perfect thought you have is ridiculous. But if your self talk is more negative than positive, it's time to turn it around.
Please go to my page on Changing Your Inner Talk for information on the techniques I used to change my mind chatter, and my life.