As humans, we’re sometimes very hard on ourselves. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our beliefs can hold back our dreams and goals… no matter how hard we work toward them. Unfortunately, these negative talking in our head sometimes keeps us stuck and puts our lives in a holding pattern.
A great psychologist, Albert Ellis, had many tokens of wisdom to pass around. One of his ideas centralized around these negative thoughts, which he often referred to as irrational beliefs.
“You have considerable power to construct self-helping thoughts, feelings, and actions as well as to construct self-defeating behaviors. You have the ability, if you use it, to choose healthy instead of unhealthy thinking, feeling and acting.” ~Albert Ellis
Discover how you can stop this vicious circle and turn your self-talk into words that support and encourage you, instead.Negative talking in our head sometimes keeps us stuck and puts our lives in a holding pattern
Step One: Pay Attention to Triggers
The first step to stopping negative self-talk is figuring out what is triggering these negative beliefs in the first place.
Albert Ellis called these so-called triggers “activating events.” These can be everyday occurrences that happen to us or around us. Anything from having your boss or supervisor yell at you and take away your project to experiencing a run-in collision with a deer on a country road can be an activating event.
Are you in conflict with another? Did something not go your way?
Further, triggers can also be incredibly personal to you and unique to your life. These are sometimes referred to as “red flags.” Red flags are issues that pertain to you alone, such as your weight, family and close relationships, integrity, and anything else that you deem sacred.
When these issues get raised, they immediately set off an alarm within you.
Step Two: Identify Irrational Beliefs
These irrational beliefs are the real culprits behind why we get upset or angry at the triggers we’ve just experienced, according to Albert Ellis. It’s not the trigger itself, but the beliefs that cause the negative self-talk.
Ellis claimed that these irrational beliefs are responsible for our emotional states, also known as the consequences of our beliefs. In this way, by identifying and then changing these beliefs, we can experience fewer emotional consequences.
For example, let’s look at this process:
- You just learned that you got turned down for a promotion at work.
- Getting turned down for the promotion is the activating event or trigger.
- The underlying thoughts or irrational beliefs you might be having include, “I’m never going to advance my career,” “My boss hates me,” or even “My boss is never fair to me.”
- These beliefs or thoughts can lead to emotional consequences of sadness and depression.
Step Three: Dispute Irrational Beliefs
The idea behind identifying these negative, irrational beliefs is so you can do something to change them.
You can change them by challenging these beliefs. This is a process of examining the truth and reality and seeing that it is different from your belief.
In the prior example of getting turned down for a promotion, a series of questions can be asked to help you sort through reality from these irrational beliefs. You want to challenge yourself by asking questions that are almost the opposite of your identified beliefs.
Some of these challenge questions may be:
- What is the truth in this situation?
- Do I have evidence to support that my current beliefs are true?
- In the example above: Are there times when my boss has been fair?
- Is it true that I’ll never advance in my career, or is this just a minor setback?
These questions can help you identify the truth from what you may erroneously believe or negatively think about a situation.
If you can identify the truth, this can lead you to think differently and avoid suffering the emotional consequences of the trigger in the first place.
Follow this process whenever you notice thoughts that are unkind to you. Change your beliefs and you’ll find your self-talk becoming words of encouragement, instead.
Tired of change being hard? You can make significant changes with EASE when you know the secret!
Get Your “7 Simple Stages for Successful Changes“ FREE Cheat Sheet by Clicking Here