August 20, 2022
One of the things my therapist repeats over and over again is, "If others talked to us the same way we talk to ourselves, we would never want to be their friend." In fact, we would not want them anywhere near us, yet many of us continue to struggle with negative self talk.
The impact of our self talk on our self image is immense. One of the first exercises I take every client through is to look into a mirror and tell me what they see. Ugly, worthless, stupid, bad parent and unloveable are just a few of the kinder things I hear clients say. A lot of what is said would not be allowed in print. Self talk is often a fruit of our core beliefs about ourselves.
Our core beliefs are formed as we grow and experience life. The majority of our core beliefs about ourselves are formed during childhood and usually stay the same through adulthood, save for traumatic experiences. By the time a client comes through my door their negative core believes have been firmly cemented in and changing them does not happen over night.
A Cognitive Behavioral Therapeutic approach views the individual in three parts; thoughts, feelings and actions. As one aspect begins to shift, so do the others causing an opportunity for change to occur. Within CBT negative self talk and negative thoughts are born from feelings and requires a "fake it till you make it" approach. I usually encourage clients to stand in front of the mirror and say phrases like, 'I am a good parent,' 'I am worthy,' 'I am lovable,' etc. It often takes months for a shift to occur, but it will change.
Positive self talk is not a quick fix and often requires other tools alongside it for long term change. The normal response I receive after the first week of positive self talk is, "I don't like this." After a month or two I can see a noticeable difference, especially related to their confidence. The client may not believe entirely in the phrases, but their negative self talk is drastically reduced and report a more positive outlook.
My recommendation when people are struggling and having a difficult time naming the source is to check their self talk. It is easy to find ourselves in a spiral of negative self talk that forms a negative self image. If this something you would like help with please give us a call at (661) 750-0438.