Confidence Hack: Stop Negative Self Talk in its Tracks

Yesterday we talked about negative thoughts and negative self-talk, what causes them and how they can sabotage us in our efforts to become more courageous and self-confident. I shared a few ideas with you about stopping these negative thoughts, but thought you could use a few more tools for this in your mental toolbox. That’s what today’s confidence hack is all about – stopping negative self-talk in its track. The earlier you can catch it and the faster you can stop it, the better.

Be On The Lookout

This is why it’s important to always be on the lookout for negative self-talk. Often we let it go on without realizing what we’re doing. We can’t take control of it unless we start to notice it. Start monitoring those internal monologues for negative thoughts so you can spot them quickly and deal with them appropriately.

Give It A Name

Start by giving a name and personality to that negative voice in your head. Call it the nag, the critic… whatever name feels right to you. Don’t be afraid to make it a silly name. It will help you take a lot of the power and influence that little voice in your head currently has right out of it. It will also help you to quickly notice what’s going on and stop it. “There goes Bob again…”

Put It In Perspective

Things are always worse in our head, aren’t they? That’s why we think when we do something embarrassing it seems so much worse than when someone else does it. That’s why it’s important to put that conversation that’s going on in your head into perspective. Instead of blowing up the negative and thinking that you ruined your relationship or career because of one little blunder or embarrassing moment, bring it down to what it really was… you said something stupid, or spilled coffee all over yourself in front of someone important. Here are some ideas for putting things into perspective:

  • Imagine if this happened to someone else… would you think it was a big deal?
  • Look around you. Are people laughing or looking outraged? If you don’t get a huge reaction, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
  • Talk it through with a good friend. They’ll help you put it into perspective.
  • Put a positive or at least neutral spin on it. At least you were memorable or no one will think about this next week.

Condition Yourself With A Rubber Band

If you’re struggling to catch the negative self-talk early and spiral down into negative thoughts instead before you can catch it, there’s a quick trick you can use to get into the habit of catching it early quickly. The main thing is to make yourself stop as soon as you realize that negative self-talk has taken hold. A quick way to do that is to use a rubber band. Put it around your wrist (make sure it’s not too tight), and as soon as you catch the negative self-talk, snap the rubber band. It won’t take long before you will notice the negative self-talk as soon as it starts and you won’t need to use the rubber band again.

Time To Talk About Negative Thinking and Negative Self-Talk

In yesterday’s challenge post I talked about hearing that little voice in your head that tells you that you don’t need to do this, shouldn't have to do this, or can’t do this anyway so why even try. These are examples of negative thinking and negative self-talk. While we are still working on improving our self-confidence and courage, it’s not uncommon to have quite a bit of this negative thinking going on.

It’s an internal protection mechanism of sorts. When we are lacking confidence, we aren’t actually sure we can do what we set out to do. Our mind then tries to protect us by talking us out of giving it a try. After all, if you don’t try, you can’t fail, right? At least that’s how our confidence-lacking subconscious thinks.

On a rational level, we know never trying is just as bad as or even worse than trying and failing. When we try and fail, we always learn something. Taking risks is part of a happy, productive life and it’s what builds courage and confidence.

Now that we know why we think these negative thoughts and try to talk ourselves out of the things we actually want to do, let’s go over some strategies for silencing these voices. Before we do that, I want to tell you that as your courage and self-confidence starts to increase, those voices will start to fade away on their own. In other words, this isn’t something you’ll have to battle or work on throughout your life. Sure, negative self-talk and negative thinking will pop up here and there, but overall it won’t be a struggle in the long run.

The first step is to simply acknowledge it’s there and it isn’t something that’s helpful or productive. I want you to realize it’s ok to simply ignore that little voice in the back of your head when it’s warning you of failure and trying to talk you into not even trying. While there are certainly times when that same voice serves a good purpose (like talking you out of jumping from a bridge), it doesn’t benefit you when it tries to talk you out of going for run in the morning.

Another good strategy is to prepare counter arguments. You know the voice in your head isn’t completely rational and helpful. Focus instead on everything you have to gain from doing it anyway, or look at all the times you’ve succeeded in the past.

The most important lesson I want you to take away from today’s post is that this negative thinking and self-talk will happen and it’s something you need to look out for. Once you know what it is, it’s much easier to dismiss it and get to work.