Uncategorized — 18 May 2015
Alter Your Negative Self Talk

All people talk to themselves. Children often vocalize their inner message as they play, think or sort out their feelings. Adults may not be aware of their self-shaming, but are wise to listen to their inner messages for a healthier and more effective functioning and outlook.

Knowing right from wrong is mostly learned. Our survival instinct propels us to act primarily toward self-preservation and not necessarily to abide by social consciousness. Both considerations are imperative in developing our internal code of moral and social conduct. Monitoring and modifying your inner voice can help you become a healthier, happier individual.

Most people are intermittently aware of their inner “self-parenting messages”, such as: “Be agreeable, let others talk, be polite, speak kindly to others, wait your turn”, etc. Fewer people are aware of their negative, self-berating messages that demoralize their spirits and impede their actions such as: “You are not that smart, capable, liked, respected, or knowledgeable as others” or “You always make mistakes, say the wrong thing and are not very bright.” Whatever your discounting content is, it is self-hindering, destructive and MUST be changed!

Internalizing parental shaming is inevitable. Parents who are frustrated or inconvenienced by their child’s behavior unwittingly damage a child’s self-view through shaming him/her. In “Good Children – At what Price? The secret cost of shame” Robin Grille and Beth Macgregor state, “Shaming acts as a pressure valve to relieve parental frustration and serve as anger-release for the parent, it makes the shaming individual feel better as the child becomes burdened with self-doubts and negative self-perception.”

Children internalize early critical parental messages as facts that become ingrained in their psyche as part of their self-definition. Being told by parents, teachers, relatives or other adults that we are lazy, sloppy, selfish, disorganized, insensitive or “bad” is accepted as valid by our young minds that desperately need to please the adults for survival. Tragically, some of these labels are believed beyond childhood and plague us for life.

Dr. Peter Loader wrote, “People compensate for deep feelings of shame with attitudes of contempt, superiority, domineering or bullying, self-deprecation, or obsessive perfectionism.

Some of our negative self- assessments have been learned and others are based on skewed self-perception prompted by fears, childhood wounds or poor emotional self-care. Whatever the source may be, we MUST monitor and repair negative, defeating self-talk, abandon feelings of shame in self-regulating of our hurts and frustrations and use appropriate self-affirmations to truthfully build our confidence and wellbeing.

In “Your Body Believes Every Word You Say: The Language of the Body/Mind Connection” Barbara Levine recommends that we identify the feelings that arise subsequent to any self-appraisal thoughts and repeat those that help us feel better about ourselves.

Alter negative self-talk:

  • Accept that your negative self-talk was imposed upon you and is NOT factual.
  • Use self-affirmations at times of anger or stress to help rebuild your esteem and competence to act maturely.
  • Validate others’ worthiness and competence for your and their esteem.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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