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Telling Negative Self-Talk to Take a Hike

Telling Negative Self-Talk to Take a Hike

Negative self-talk can be such a brat sometimes. It hardly thinks twice before jumping down your throat to attack you for not being, doing, or accomplishing more than you have. Not surprisingly, this voice comes from your dragon of self-doubt, rearing its ugly head and criticizing everything you do wrong, nothing you do right, and blowing all that fire in your face. 

I’ve written extensively on the blog about the negative voice in our heads. And how, with a little time, patience, and practice, you can teach this beast some manners.

Well, this week, I’ve discovered a new way to mute your dragon’s ugly voice: pride. 

When we think of pride, we often associate it with a sense of accomplishment from tackling a major milestone. Winning a soccer tournament, graduating from college, buying your first home, becoming a parent. You know, the big stuff. 

But what if we also felt proud of the smaller wins in life? And what if these little pockets of pride silenced that dragon’s voice for good?

It’s possible. I’ve seen it happen in my own life.

A few weeks ago, I reached out to my parents and cousin, who wanted to watch my daughter Layla play field hockey. I let them know that her next game was on Tuesday at 6pm and that we’d love to see them there. Everyone accepted the invite and was looking forward to it. Easy enough.

But when Tuesday morning rolled around, I suddenly realized there was no way that Layla’s game would start at 6:00pm, because it was getting dark earlier and there were no lights on the field. With panic knitting in my stomach, knowing family had planned their day around this schedule, I checked the soccer website and sure enough, her game was at 4:00pm. 

Dammit.

The negative voice in my head immediately tried to take me down. It said, good grief Katherine. The start time was plastered all over the website, and you still got it wrong? Now, everyone is going to scramble to change their plans at the last minute. Way to go.

But something magical happened next. I chose to interrupt my dragon’s shame game with a heavy dose of pride.  

Don’t tell me I should be embarrassed for making a mistake, I thought. I’m proud of catching the mishap in time to make it right. 

And just like that, pride became an antidote to my shame. An antidote is taken to counteract a particular kind of poison and in this case, I think we’d all agree that negative self-talk is a powerful form of poison that needs to be controlled. 

To give this technique a whirl, you’ll need to practice it during small moments, as well as big ones. Little wins like not eating the last brownie in the box, squeezing in a girl’s night or apologizing to your partner after a spat might just be the antidote you need to fend off your dragon’s next attack. 

Most importantly, your pride needs to come from internal versus external sources. Other people can tell you they’re proud of your parenting or career, but unless you feel proud of yourself, external pride is pointless. It just doesn’t have the power to beat down negative self-talk, because this is an internal battle that you need to win.

Can you think of a recent situation in which your negative voice gave you a good beat down? How could you have used pride to turn the situation around?

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Katherine Wintsch