“I think my struggles stem from childhood trauma.”
I read those words from a precious reader and my heart immediately broke. She wanted to know how to stop her negative self-talk, she wanted to learn to replace self-hatred with self-love. She wanted to know how to stop feeling ashamed – she had tried many things, including very good coping skills, in the past. But her struggle remained.
First, I want to thank this dear reader for sharing so vulnerably with me. It is a privilege I do not take lightly when you reach out via email, DM, or a comment. As a therapist, I know full well how difficult it can be to admit you are struggling. I hope you know you are not alone.
Second, I want to tell you that I have been receiving tons
of messages lately from people struggling in the same way. Whether your negative self-talk stems from childhood trauma (almost all victims of childhood trauma experience negative self-talk at some point), growing up in an invalidating environment, feeling rejected or unwanted at some point in your life, or any other reason, you don’t have to live with it. There are things you can do to grow in self-love
Today, I want to share a few strategies I consistently recommend to my clients who struggle to love themselves.
Interrupt Your Negative Self-Talk
The first step to stopping your negative self-talk is to notice that it’s there. Whenever you hear negative thoughts going through your mind, notice them – observe them non-judgmentally. If you are thinking something like “I never get anything right” or “I’m so stupid” don’t berate yourself for those thoughts, even though you wish they weren’t there. Instead, simply notice them – you can say something like “I’m having negative thoughts” or, just “negative.”
By saying something like this (in your mind or out loud), you interrupt your negative self-talk and immediately take back the control of your thoughts. This is the crucial first step to stopping negative self-talk; it will require practice and some time, but you’ll get there. Be gentle with yourself as you learn to stop your thoughts.
Use This Worksheet To Change Your Thoughts Completely
It’s so easy to let a person or situation set you off and then let your emotions run away with you. Trust me, I have been guilty of it many times. However, this usually gets you nowhere and can add to your feelings of frustration. Instead, try to figure out exactly what triggered you in a given situation, and what emotions it brought up in you. I highly recommend using a thought tracker for this. A thought tracker (or thought record) allows you to process through what happened and how it made you feel. It forces you to a greater level of emotional intelligence
(always a good thing!) so that you will not only understand what happened this time, but have a plan to act (not react
) more effectively next time. I made you a FREE printable thought tracker that you can get via email by signing up right here:
List all the moods and thoughts you are having on your thought tracker (it also helps to rate the intensity of your moods on a scale of 1-10 or 1-100) and focus on the one thought that set you off the most or caused the greatest amount of emotion in you. List all the evidence for this thought being true, and any evidence against this thought being true (you can do this on the back of your worksheet). Afterward, write an alternative or balanced thought that takes all the evidence into account. By this time, you’ll probably have had a “eureeka!” moment and will be well on your way to decreasing the amount of negative emotions you’re feeling.
Get some extra help
Friends, I am confident if you are willing to do the work of noticing, stopping, and changing your thoughts, you will also notice a change in your moods, thoughts, and behaviors. If you are willing to combat your negative self-talk, you will slowly but surely replace your unkind words toward yourself with words of compassion and love.
Some people have a deeper affliction with negative self-talk than others, and that’s ok. There are many reasons for this, including trauma history, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and many other causes. If you are experiencing negative self-talk in relation to any of these, please seek professional help in your local area. If you live in the U.S. and need help finding a therapist, you can go to psychologytoday.com
and type in your zip code to search for one near you.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns. Have a wonderful week, my friends!!