How To Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts
Our brains are really good at catastrophizing a situation or letting us know that we are no good. It can be a persistent nag in our mind trying to warn us that we screwed up, that interview you went to or the last conversation you had with someone was really bad and they don’t like you. Sometimes we can have a scolding voice that mentally replays in our heads. Our brains can criticize us throughout the day. “Why did you move like that.” “That person’s looking at you, they must be thinking something bad about you.” “That girl is cuter than you” “You keep trying and failing. Just give up.” It might be the wave of guilt or shame that indicates that once again you didn’t measure up.
Being Self Critical Is Not You. It Is A Problem You Are Trying To Fix.
What you don’t want to do is get pulled into believing that the only way to escape the negative self-doubt or criticism is to listen to them or do better – to work harder and not screw up.
One of the first steps to not be self-critical is to recognize what you’re even doing. I call this awareness training. I want someone to write down throughout the week what thoughts they had that caused them to think they were less than or how they were hard on themselves. After someone is able to keep track of these thoughts we do what is called cognitive restructuring. With this we will learn to challenge the thought. For instance, if my automatic self-critical thought said, “I’m such an idiot. You had a few wrong answer on the test. How can you ever expect to get any scholarships?”
We would practice by challenging this thought. Pretend you are in a court room arguing with these thoughts. “Just because you put wrong answers on a test doesn’t mean you’re an idiot. It means you answered some questions incorrectly. Also, scholarships are a few years away; how in the world will I know RIGHT NOW if I’m going to get one or not.”
Challenging may seem like it’s not doing much, but overtime it makes a difference. It takes practice, it takes the person getting past self-defeating thoughts to continue doing it. Seeing a therapist for negative thoughts can be helpful to make sure you're staying motivated with treatment and are doing the skill effectively.
Why Do I Have Negative Self Talk?
Your Parents Were Role Models
While there are several ways self-criticism can get rooted, here are some of the most common sources. If one or both of your parents were hard-driving, self-critical, perfectionistic towards themselves or you, it may be easy for your to be the same.
You may have felt the pressure from your parents in your life. The dread you felt when you were waiting for your report card or the expectations of making the cut for first string on the soccer team. A parent’s disappointment can really cause issues in the way we think about ourselves. It’s easy to think that if someone is disappointed in me that I must not be good enough or that I did something wrong.
Parents that tend to use corporal punishment towards their children unknowingly are doing damage not only in the physical sense to the mental. If a child does not pick up their toys or spill their drink and the parents spank them for it, they are not going to really understand what just happened. They may develop a sense of not being good enough and may punish themselves in the future for their mistakes or misdoings.
There are so many other aspects that can help remove self-defeating thoughts or negative self talk. This is why I recommend seeing a therapist who can help with this. They can help with any anxiety or depression that may be paired with this as well.
Nathan Peterson LCSW
Therapist For Negative Thinking
Therapist In Bountiful
Counselor For Negative Self Talk
I have been practicing for the past 10 years. I'd like to talk about what is on my mind as a therapist. In turn, I hope to help my readers and clients.