Katy Morin

4 Steps to Change Your Self-Talk From Bully To Ally

If you have social anxiety, your self-talk can make it easy for you to avoid social situations that bring you anxiety. What if you were offered a coach who could see you through every tough challenge you faced? What if someone was always there with an encouraging word, to bolster your courage and build you up? Someone who knows you better than any other person in the world and still thinks you're terrific? Someone who sees only the success you can be, and never brings up the past or criticizes unfairly?

Now, what if I told you this someone is already there, in your life, waiting to be heard? Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? There's only one catch: You have to drop the negativity and make your self-talk your ally, not your bully.

Here are the 4 steps to do just that:

1. Pay Attention to the Dialogue
You can't change what you don't understand. The first step is to start paying attention to the things you tell yourself. What kinds of things are you saying? Do you seem more negative after certain triggers? Where are the sticking points you come back to again and again? You can use a thought record sheet to identify your negative automatic thoughts.

2. Learn to Tune Things Out
By listening, we allow negativity to live rent-free in our heads. It's better just to acknowledge what's being said and ignore it. The more you make a big deal out of it, the more you're giving it room to grow. Instead tell yourself, "OK, this is there. Who cares?"

3. Find Your Phrase
Here's where you get to create your go-to phrase. Make it a good one, as you're going to get a lot of mileage out of it. Even something simple like "You've got this" can pack a positive punch. Pick something that makes you feel good when you hear it. Insert this into your dialogue as needed.

4. Remind Yourself to Focus
The problem with negative self-talk is it's so distracting. When you catch it happening, call yourself back to what you're doing. If it helps, even saying the word "Focus" out loud can be helpful to get your attention back where it needs to be. There's no room for negativity in that kind of concentration.

When we engage in positive self-talk, this inner dialogue becomes an ally like no other. You open yourself to growth and change. You discover a world of possibilities and as a result, accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

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