Since your self-talk affects everything about your life, what you learn in this article is crucial to your growth toward high self-confidence.

Have you ever said any of these to yourself?

• I can’t do it.
• I’m so stupid! I can’t do anything right.
• I’m afraid to speak up at meetings. People will ridicule what I say.
• I will fail, so why try?
• I can never get this right.
• I’m such a loser. I’ll never get a better job.

These are all types of self-talk that hurt your self-confidence. If you say think these types of thoughts over and over again, your sense of self-worth will be low, no matter how much you achieve.

Your mind can repeat misguided, negative thoughts about your core value as a human being. There are numerous ways of flawed thinking you can use to make this happen.

For each negative thought you have, immediately think its opposite, more positive one. You can even say, “Stop!” after your negative self-talk suggestion. Take a moment to reverse yourself and deliberately change your self-talk into something more positive.

Predicting a Negative Outcome

David is very nervous before his job interview. Even though he knows he has the skills for this position, he believes he always does poorly during the interview itself. He can see himself stammering and not answering the questions well. He tells himself that the interview will turn out badly and he won’t get the job.

In addition, people with low self-confidence overestimate the negative consequences of the predicted negative outcome. David imagines pictures of what his life will be like when he is terrible at the interview and doesn’t get the job: he’ll be broke, he’ll go hungry, he’ll get kicked out of his apartment, and his life will be miserable because he’ll have to go live with his parents…again.

To challenge this type of negative self-talk, think about your past and what you did well. Look at some hard evidence to argue with what your self-talk is saying. Realize that your worst-case scenario is often overblown and dramatic, even ridiculous and unbelievable. It’s important to have an accurate perspective on what could happen.

Negative self-talk: “I know I’ll stammer at the interview. I won’t get the job. There’s no way I can do well. My life is going to go downhill from here – no job, no money, no food, no house. I’ll have to go live Then with my parents again! Horrors!”

The rebuttal: “I’ve had three successful interviews. Even though I did stammer a little, I was hired because of my skills. I know I can do a good job. I’ll practice answering questions that I think the interviewer will ask. I’ll be better prepared.”

Negative self-talk: “I didn’t get promoted! I thought I would be! I’ll bet they’re going to fire me! I better start looking for another job.”

Rebuttal: “It’s too bad that I didn’t get promoted. can understand why Jerry got that position. I’ll work harder on increasing my skills.”

Overgeneralizing

Olivia’s boyfriend informs her that he doesn’t think the relationship is going to pan out and that he wants to be friends and date other people. She tells herself that she will “always” turn any relationship into a bad one. She can “never” get it right. “Every single one” of her boyfriends was mean and ended up not caring for her. “Everyone” knows that she’ll “never” get married and will be single “forever.”

When Olivia talks to herself using words such as “always,” “never,” and “everyone,” she feels there is a great flaw within her. She is painting a picture of extremes, only black and white with no shades of gray.
The world is not black and white. It is truly gray.

It’s very important to be realistic with this type of self-talk. Is it accurate to say “never” or “always” or “everything”? Many times, this type of self-talk is accompanied by incorrect or exaggerated assumptions about the way things should be or ought to be. This is a sign that you’re too rigid and perfectionistic in your thinking in your expectations for yourself and other people.

To challenge overgeneralizing, eliminate these black and white terms. Think in realistic terms, looking for the things that are possible and achievable. Make a list of pros and cons about an idea, and be sure to give as much thought to the pros as the cons.

Negative self-talk: “My relationships always turn out bad. I can never get them right. Every single boyfriend was mean and didn’t care for me. Everyone knows I’ll never get married and I’ll be single forever.”

The rebuttal: "I’m so sorry Brad broke up with me. I thought we were doing fairly well. I guess not. I know I’ll meet someone else. I think I’ll call up Ann and see if she’d like to go out tonight. I’m sure there are some guys at that new dancing place we can meet.”

Changing your self-talk takes some effort. But it’s important to interrupt your negative thoughts, pause, and replace them with thoughts that are more uplifting and optimistic. Only when you do this will your self-confidence be strong.

Exercise

Make four columns, one entitled “Negative Self-Talk,” one entitled “Error,” one entitled “Positive Self-Talk,” and the last entitled “Actions.” Under each column write out the negative thoughts about yourself in your mind, which pattern of error it is, a new thought that reinforces your self-esteem, and what new actions you’ll take as a result of changing to more positive self-talk. This exercise is also in the two articles: 1) labeling and comparing yourself with others, and 2) focusing on the negative while discounting the positive and mind reading.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers three online courses and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. Discover how to change your thoughts into positive and uplifting self-talk in her online course Transform Your Self-Talk to Stay Positive.