Making Friends with Negative Self-Talk
One thing that mindful breathing has taught me is to become friends with all of my thoughts, especially the ones I don’t want to admit to having. The circular thoughts that won’t leave me alone and pester me like a broken record. The ones which cloud my internal clarity and keep me paralyzed, and stuck in the space of inaction. The ones that are so loud, they take over my life like the knob being broken off of the stereo.
There are even days where I can go looking consistently for confirmation of what I’m hearing within my thoughts—something to point to on the outside. This phenomenon is called energetic matching, or matching vibration. It is the foundational beliefs surrounding the law of attraction.
According to this universal law, the universe which surrounds you is an energetic mirror (or frequency of vibration) of what you believe to be true about yourself and your current reality. What you send out to the universe will determine what you receive back. For example: if you think you are stuck, you will get more and more signs or proof that you are stuck. This universal law reaffirms your choices, reflecting back exactly what you’ve selected—whether you actually want that internal belief or not.
Ever heard the phrase, “Your thoughts become your reality”? It’s a phrase rooted in this law.
What Negative Self-Talk Can Look Like
The judge or inner-critic can sometimes become the loudest. It can bully all your other thoughts in order to prove your irrational fears or [incorrect] beliefs of what’s going on inside your head to be true. When you catch yourself in negative self-talk, it's a matter of recognizing the thought, reminding yourself that it is not true and affirming what you want to be true. Remember, that self-shame and guilt should steer clear during this exercise.
Negative self-talk can look different for everyone. It can appear when you look in the mirror, when you compare your accomplishments with another, or when you are dating. As humans, we are all individually prone to negative self-talk that may or may not be unique to us.
You may view yourself as a victim. In this instance, you can remind yourself that your life is within your control. You are not stuck in unhappiness or your patterns no matter how it might feel.
Maybe you feel rigid and unforgiving—stubborn even when it does not serve you. Your thoughts may reflect an inner pressure to be perfect and needless.
You may have thoughts surrounding not being good enough, that you have to do everything, or that you are not doing enough.
You can see, once you start paying attention, how your negative self-talk can take over easily. This is why it’s important to be self-aware and then allow yourself to soften.
Coming Back to Your Breath
What it Means to Focus on Your Breath
Try these 3 practices to feel the benefits of mindfully working with the breath:
First, make friends with your breath. The body breathes without you having to do anything or be anywhere. You can use your breath as an object of attention to shift out of "fight-or-flight", giving yourself a break from anxious thoughts by choosing to focus on your inhales and exhales, and nothing else.
Now, get comfortable with the ups and downs. One of the greatest benefits of any meditation is that you can learn how to more easily “go with the flow.” By focusing on the constancy of your breath, you can get familiar with the unfolding of your emotions and reactions, and learn to “ride” them out instead of getting wrapped up in them.
Finally, bring the breath with you. You don’t have to adopt a practice of hours of seated meditation in order to receive the benefits. Small increments of 2-3 minutes throughout your day can make a tremendous difference in the quality of your life.
When you find yourself in these spirals of negative self-talk, recognize them for what they are. Come back to your breath and let it all go. It’s important to forgive yourself for not doing things “right” as often as you think you should—and recognize that your thoughts do not define you. Focusing on your breath is an invitation to come back to yourself and a chance to start over again.
I now can recognize that my negative thoughts are always about my past, and not only do I need to release the thoughts, but I also have to integrate the emotions surrounding those thoughts in order to fully release them. Even when I’m working throughout the day, I have begun to incorporate this practice of returning to my breath—eyes open, not meditating. As with anything, once practiced, it becomes a part of you and requires less effort to manage—like riding a bike or driving a car.
I feel like we’ve all been conditioned to think that free will over our thoughts is just an illusion. It’s true that this awareness and technique takes time, patience, and practice to unwind, unravel, and un-do. It takes work to wake-up from our thoughts and remember that they are a part of us, just like our breath. You are completely in control of your thoughts, (if you want to be).
How about you?
When was the last time you told yourself something loving, kind, or compassionate? How about telling yourself how capable you are, and how you always figure things out? How many of your thoughts are completely random? Any habitual thoughts? How many reactive thoughts do you have?
On average, you can assume you have around 15-20 thoughts per minute. When you exercise, meditate, or practice deep breathing you can usually pause your thoughts temporarily. For those few moments you are completely present within yourself. But in a greater sense, unless you are actively aware of your thoughts, they are bound to hijack your deeper understanding and awareness, and yes, even your sense of safety.
What is your relationship to your thoughts? Do you accept every thought as an absolute truth without room for inquiry? Do you allow your anxiety and fears to override any happiness or joy, convinced this is the way things have to be? Do you allow yourself the freedom to pull away from the constant chatter?
Turning Your Self-Talk Around
Replace Envy with Feeling Happy for Others
Envy can look like resentment, jealousy, judgement, or even anger. After some reflection, ask yourself, “Why shouldn't I feel happy for others even if it's not a situation that is making me feel particularly happy?” As soon as you begin to feel envy towards another, instead of blaming yourself for feeling that way, immediately turn that envy into joy and gratitude for the person in question.
This practice (and it does take practice) is the perfect antidote for envy, resentment, judgement, and other painful thoughts and emotions that can arise when you encounter a person who is enjoying something you’re not, or is thriving on an experience more than you are.
Self-compassion is my “go-to” practice when I’m not feeling good… and negative self-talk definitely does not feel good. How do you practice self-compassion? Talk to yourself as gently and as kindly as you can. That’s all compassion is: being kind and caring.
Be sure to use a calm and gentle voice as you turn your negative self-talk around. And don’t worry if it feels fake at first. Just keep doing it. You are planting a seed. Gradually, your kind and caring self-talk will become genuine. And as it becomes genuine, your negative self-talk will fade, eventually losing its grip on you.
Anytime you need a quick pick-me-up, write down the five things people tend to compliment you on; this will serve as a reminder of your value. Or you can remind yourself of the aspects of your character that do generally make you feel proud and happy, regardless of whether or not anyone else has commented on them.
A lot of the most common forms of negative thinking revolve around unrealistically high standards. The next time you are feeling low, or doubting your own abilities because you are not perfect, remember that no one is. We are all a work in progress.
This piece was written and contributed by:
Soul Liberation & Embodiment
Andrea Firpo is a Psychic Cheerleader who is focused on soul liberation and embodiment. Combining her psychic and intuitive abilities with her educational background of trauma psychology, she connects women to their own inner wisdom and self-love. By bringing awareness in the body, mind, and spirit around the deep conditioning of emotional trauma, Andrea identifies underlying patterns that undermine her clients’ self-worth. Through simple yet powerful healing tools, Andrea empowers her clients to achieve energetic balance through healthy boundaries, promoting incredible paradigm shifts in their lives.
Andrea is also an author who has contributed to the anthologies, Dreamweavers, Ceremonies, and the recent #1 Amazon International Bestseller, The Art & Truth of Transformation for Women. As a show host and producer, she highlights the stories and lessons of remarkable women overcoming traumatic events in her podcast, "Brilliance through Resilience." She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon and works with clients internationally.