2 Quick Exercises to Quiet the Negative Self-Talk in Your Head
1. Record and Review Your Negativity in Real Time
To change your thinking, you first need to have a clear understanding of what you’re thinking. When a troubling (negative) thought arises in your mind, instead of ignoring it, pay closer attention and then record it. For example, if you’re sitting at your desk and you catch yourself ruminating about something negative, pause and write it down immediately. Get that raw thought out of your head and down on paper – just a short sentence or two that honestly depicts the specific thought that’s presently troubling you: “I’m not good enough for the job I’m applying for because I don’t have enough experience.”
Then quickly identify what triggered the thought. Again, be brief and specific: “I’m new to the industry, and therefore I’m feeling out of my comfort zone.”
At the very least, the process of recording your troubling thoughts helps bring a healthy, objective awareness to the negativity that exists within them, which ultimately helps you shift your mindset.
2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts by Turning Them into Questions
Many of the things you tell yourself when you ruminate about your troubles are completely and utterly false. You really have to catch yourself in the act and bring yourself back to reality.
The key is to challenge your negative thoughts. And one of the simplest ways of doing this is turning them into questions. So, let’s revisit the example mentioned in #1 – “I’m not good enough for the job I’m applying for because I don’t have enough experience.” Simply change this thought into a question:
“I’m not good enough for the job I’m applying for because I don’t have enough experience???”
Then, once you’ve mulled over the question for a moment, ask yourself:
Can I be absolutely certain that the answer is yes?
Think about it, and then find evidence to the contrary. What successes have you had in your career that may be applicable to this new job? Where and when have your relevant efforts made a positive impact? Write down a short, specific list of some times when you absolutely have been good enough, and then examine it.
Do you fall short sometimes? Sure you do – everyone does. But you also succeed in incredible ways sometimes too. That’s the whole truth, and it’s worth reflecting on.
The ultimate goal is to see yourself, and the entirety of your reality, more accurately.
There’s a quote I’ve always appreciated that’s often credited to Ignatius: “Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.”