How Negative Thoughts can Derail Your Life

There are many different thoughts on how many positive comments or praises make up for one negative comment, but the one I like to use is 60. It takes 60 positive comments or praises to make up for one negative comment. That works for all people. Think about it, if you go to work and your boss tells you that you do lousy work, how many times would he have to tell you “Good Job” to make up for that one small comment? It probably would be more than 60 times. And we all know how our words can positively or negatively affect others. So, why don’t you think that it works the same way when we talk to ourselves?

            I know of only a few people who don’t have that little voice in their head that tells negative things about themselves. One man I used to work with apparently had two voices in his head, one who told him how great he was and the other to repeat it. But, most of us don’t have that. I know that I for certain don’t have that. I have my inner voice that likes to tell me all kinds of negative things about myself and I used to believe it. The voice took on the sound of one of the mean girls from my high school. But, with time and consistency, I have learned how to ignore if not overcome the voice most of the time. It is still a work in progress, and I believe that it will be so for my entire life.

            You may be asking yourself, “How can negative thoughts be derailing my life?” It’s pretty simple actually. Say you want to write a book, but every time you sit down at the computer to start writing, your little voice pipes up and tells you that no one will read it. If you listen to that negative thought enough, you will start to believe it. And if you believe it, will you write the book? The answer is most likely not. You wouldn’t want to waste your time doing something that no one else will care about. A way to combat that thought would be to counteract it. When the voice tells you that no one will read it, respond with “That’s not true, while it may not be for everyone, I know several people who will enjoy it.”

            Negative self-talk can start gradually, and it usually does. It can start with calling yourself and idiot under your breath when you miss your turn or telling yourself that your fat when you look in the mirror. But those little mumbles under your breath to yourself is actually doing harm to your self-esteem. You are teaching your brain to listen and believe the negative things over the positive things. If you tell yourself every day that you’re stupid, for instance, you will not believe anyone who tells you any different. You have already decided for yourself that you are stupid and no one will be able to change your mind.

Here are some ways that negative self-talk and negative thinking could be derailing your life:

• Stops you from doing something that you want to do.

• Makes you sad, depressed, upset.

• Destroys your confidence.

• Lessens your self-esteem.

• You find less happiness and joy with people and things you used to enjoy.

• Makes you tired and seeps your energy.

            To lessen the effects that negative self-talk and negative thinking has on you, you need to be aware of when you indulge in them. For many people, negative self-talk has become such a habit that it is a natural part of their life. If that is the case, you need to be aware of your thoughts and when they occur. Acknowledging the thoughts that you are having helps you to come a long way to overcoming the negative thoughts. When you discover a negative thought or an instance of negative self-talk, acknowledge it and consider where that thought comes from. And when you acknowledge the negative thought or negative self-talk, replace it with a positive one.

Here are some examples of how to replace negative thoughts/self-talk with positive ones:

• Replace “I’m not worth it” with “I AM worth it”.

• Replace “I can’t do it” with “I WILL do it”.

• Replace “People won’t like me” with “People will LOVE me”.

• Replace “My opinion doesn’t matter” with “My opinion is as important as everyone else’s”.

            Changing negative thinking and negative self-talk is a long journey, but it is worth it. People see what you give out and if you are confident in yourself, others will be confident in you.

*If you are having thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself, contact a licensed therapist or the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.