Negative self-talk can have a negative effect on your love life in a variety of ways. It can cause you to stay away from relationships or even stop putting yourself out there all together.
One of the first steps in tackling this type of thinking is to recognise and challenge it. Often, your thoughts are blown out of proportion and may not be true at all.
1. Change Your Perspective
Negative self-talk doesn’t just impact you—it can also have a negative effect on your relationships with other people. When you tell yourself that you’re boring or fat, it can make you put up emotional walls around yourself and avoid interacting with other people, which can lead to loneliness and even depression.
The first step in changing your perspective is becoming aware of the negativity. “Being aware of what is happening and when allows you to catch the negative thoughts in their tracks, rather than letting them spiral,” says Jewell.
You can start by evaluating the negative thought with logic, asking yourself questions like “Is this true?” and “What evidence do I have to support this claim?” Once you’ve challenged your negative thoughts, try replacing them with more supportive ones. You can do this by focusing on what you’re good at or by praising yourself for something positive in your life. You could even volunteer and help others, which is scientifically proven to improve your outlook on life.
2. Change Your Language
The language used to describe your experience and inner dialogue can be a powerful influencing factor. Using more positive language can help to shift your mood and perspective, allowing you to think more expansively and take in the bigger picture.
Negative self-talk often involves a distorted sense of reality and can lead to a negative emotional state. It can also be triggered by specific events, people or situations that you find challenging. Identifying the situations that can trigger your negative self-talk will allow you to be more mindful of your internal dialogue, enabling you to reframe it and change the way you respond.
Changing your inner dialogue is not about ignoring or suppressing your critical thoughts, but rather, consciously choosing to believe a more supportive narrative led by your inner coach, optimist and cheerleader. It’s about challenging your automatic thoughts and assumptions, and showing yourself the same compassion you would a friend. It’s also about setting realistic expectations for yourself.
3. Change Your Habits
Changing bad habits starts with becoming aware of the habit and the triggers that initiate it. One way to do this is by bringing mindfulness to your day. Using a piece of paper and pen to track when your negative self-talk occurs, how many times it happens each day, and what triggers it, can help you wrap your head around the issue.
It may also be helpful to discuss these thoughts with a friend. Sometimes, just hearing these negative phrases spoken out loud can shine a light on how ridiculous they really are.
Negative self-talk robs you of your joy and limits what you believe is possible for yourself. It’s also damaging to your relationships. Negative thoughts can sabotage romantic connections by exaggerating little annoyances and personality differences into big problems that can’t be solved. This can lead to resentment and a withdrawal from intimacy. In this episode of the WomenHeart Podcast, Gwen Mayes explains how to stop the self-destructive pattern.
4. Change Your Mindset
Negative thoughts can quickly spiral into a dark lens that affects your outlook, relationships and self-image. Over time, it can also damage existing romantic partnerships as you find yourself cynical and critical of your partner. In addition, you may begin to withdraw as a result of your negative self-talk, especially if it exaggerates little annoyances or personality differences.
A common way to combat negative thinking is by using mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, grounding and refocusing on positive thoughts and emotions. This is known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a research-backed approach to changing unhelpful thinking and beliefs.
Another helpful tool to combat your inner critic is to use the technique of “thought replacement” where you challenge each negative thought with a more affirming one. For example, if you are telling yourself that you look fat, think of 3 things about your appearance that you actually like. Try to do this every time a negative thought comes up.