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Overcoming Negative Self-Talk

By Jenn Rockefeller

We all have an inner voice that helps guide us in our daily lives. This inner voice is like a soliloquy in a play – an inner monologue. This inner monologue can be positive and negative. How we use it in our daily lives is crucial to our overall well-being.

But when we have been in an abusive situation, it’s difficult to overcome the negative pattern that we are in. We are so used to hearing so many negative things from our abusers. What are some of the types of negative self-talk? How do we overcome them?

Types of negative self-talk 

There are several types of negative self-talk. Five of those are listed below:

  • Personalization – Personalization is the automatic feeling that everything is our fault. This was ingrained in us from the get-go. The abusers purposely told us, “It’s your fault.” When we are told something often enough, we begin to believe it. Even when we are out of our situations, we still believe it. We believe that no matter what we do, everything is our fault.
  • Overgeneralization – This bad habit tells us that one bad thing happens, bad things will happen all the time. We make blanket statements to apply to the our entiere lives. I know I began to think that all men were like my ex and that I’d never find anyone to love.
  • Magnification – This is the feeling we get when we take our own flaws and mistakes and amplify them tenfold. It’s like the old phrase “making mountains out of molehills.” We greatly exaggerate moments or events in our lives.
  • Minimization – Minimization is the complete opposite of magnification and it occurs when we dismiss our strengths and talk down about ourselves. I know I’ve been guilty of this one quite often since the ex discarded me. We might be successful at work for several months in a row, maybe even obtaining Employee of the Month during that time. But in that fourth month, we make a few small mistakes and think, “Oh I’m such a failure. Why did they even hire me?” This pattern of thinking keeps us in a vicious cycle of negative thinking that prevents us from celebrating our accomplishments and achievements.
  • Emotional reasoning – This is the habit of letting our hearts and feelings control our decision-making process. We let our emotions dictate what we should and should not do, instead of using our intellect to direct us.

How to overcome negative self-talk 

I am nearly 10 years out of my situation and I still struggle with negative self-talk from time to time. It’s difficult to get out of the habit. It’s not a good habit to be in. So how do we overcome it?

First and foremost, it takes practice and lots of it. We need to make a conscious choice every day to change that negative thought pattern into a positive one. It’s going to be a rough road to overcoming this pattern, especially if you’ve spent an elongated period of time with the abuser. But you can do it – it just takes practice.

The following tips can help you overcome your negative self-talk:

  • Change your mindset – The old phrase that goes, “It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it” applies here. Maybe you’re afraid to try something new because you’ve never done it before. Changing your mindset to think, “I’ll learn something new.” Turning a negative into a positive can have a wondrous effect on our overall well-being.
  • Change your inner monologue – We are so accustomed to talking to (and about) ourselves in a negative manner. I know my own thought processes and inner dialogue was rather judgmental and harsh. I had always been my own worst critic, and the ex knew this, so he amplified that to the extreme. It stands to reason that it’ll take us practice to change our inner monologue.
  • Validation – When you come across these negative feelings, just know that it’s okay to feel that way. Validate yourself. Try to not analyze every single emotion that comes across your path.
  • Mindfulness – Be aware of your feelings as they happen, but don’t dwell on them. Acknowledge your feeling, but let them move on.
  • Check your surroundings – Positivity begets positivity, so surround yourself with like-minded individuals. The more positive and uplifting people are in your life, the more apt you are to begin to feel more positive and encouraged to move forward and fuel your life in a more meaningful way.
  • Consider the source – This is something that my mother mentioned to me when helping me through a particularly rough moment in the aftermath of an encounter with the ex. When you begin to hear that negative self-talk, ask yourself: Where does all this come from? Why am I thinking this? When I asked myself these questions, I realized that this negativity all stemmed from things the ex has said to me in the past, and that is why the thought patterns continue.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Negative self-talk won’t miraculously turn into rainbows and butterflies. It takes time and practice. In time, your negative self-talk will begin to take on a more positive spin. You’ll begin to see change take place.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.

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Share Your Story

Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences.