“Be careful who you pretend to be. You might forget who you are.” — Hoda Kotb
Have you ever noticed when one thing goes wrong in pursuit of a goal, it can feel like everything else in your life is building momentum to go wrong as well? This is because you put yourself in the frame of mind to believe that events that happen within your environment will not meet your expectations. In this frame of mind, you tell yourself the worst is coming your way and that you won’t be able to achieve your goals.
You think to yourself things like “I can’t do anything right,” “I won’t ever get there,” “I don’t know what I’m doing,” or “I am a fraud!” You think these thoughts so much that you believe them about yourself, and you forget the skills and experience you have built to get to the point you are at.
Most of the time your negative self-talk is not rooted in fact. The reality is you have the power to control what you want to believe to be true based on the facts of the situation.
Negative self-talk limits your ability to see opportunities for growth and motivation toward a goal. You must have a strategy for overcoming negative self-talk, and the strategies that will be given in this article are going to give you a head start.
What is negative self-talk and why is it a problem?
Negative self-talk is the pessimistic conversation that you are having with yourself in your head or out loud. You are pessimistic and critical of yourself, your performance, your situation, or your future. This conversation is not rooted in fact, and you have no examples to show that your criticisms are warranted.
Here are some statistics you should be aware of according to a study published by the National Science Foundation in 2005:
- The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day
- 80% of our thoughts are negative
- 95% of our thoughts are repetitive
With so many thoughts happening in a day, if you are constantly thinking the same negative thoughts over and over, there’s a good chance you are going to believe some of them. This is where the problem lies.
If someone else were to tell us something about ourselves that wasn’t true or why we are incapable of achieving our goals without evidence, we would have a million-and-one facts to support ourselves to argue against their claims. However, when those statements come from our own negative thoughts, we tend to believe they are true because they come from within us. Even though these thoughts also don’t have facts or evidence to back them up.
Believing negative thoughts about yourself can create anxiety, increase stress, and reduce motivation to attain your goals. This makes the road to getting your goals very rocky and creates feelings of hopelessness.
Solutions to negative self-talk for goal achievement
Positive affirmations are positive statements or phrases you say to yourself over and over that you want to believe to be true. They are powerful in combating all of those negative thoughts that we think daily.
The key is to recognize when you are having negative thoughts first.
The positive affirmations, if repeated enough when you recognize you are having negative thoughts, will seep into your subconscious mind and create positive conscious actions for yourself. I wrote in my previous article your subconscious is hearing you and it is obeying you, that our subconscious minds dictate our actions and behaviors based on stored habitual thinking. Making a conscious effort to use positive affirmations when you recognize that you are having negative self-talk will rewire your brain to think of reasons why you can achieve your goals and positive solutions moving forward.
If you need a primer on affirmations you can check out my book Did You Know? You Are The Shit! that teaches you how to effectively use positive affirmations to overcome self-doubt and also serves as a journal to document your process.
Visualization is the process of seeing yourself in the situation that you want to be in. In order to do this you are going to have to concentrate and really define the details. This is going to require knowing what you want the outcome to be. What does that situation look like? How will you feel in the moment? Who is involved? What environment are you in? Once you immerse yourself in the outcome by seeing yourself there in the presence of your mind, there will be no room for negative self-talk to live because you can see yourself in a state of accomplishment.
Set Small Attainable Goals
Setting small and attainable goals in the grand scheme of the big picture will reaffirm your abilities in yourself. You build momentum toward success by stacking small wins on top of each other.
Negative self-talk is able to exist because you have not proven to yourself you can do the work yet. On the bright side, you also have not proven to yourself that you can not accomplish what you want because your negative self-talk created inaction that has held you back… See what I did there? That’s a positive perspective on a negative state of mind.
Accomplishing small goals will create the proof in your mind needed to eliminate the negative self-talk that is created when you have no evidence of not being able to get tasks done.