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What is the Importance of Self-Communication?  

Hannah Cericola, LPC  

The conversations you have with yourself are just as meaningful as the conversations you have with your family, friends, and peers. You are the only person with whom you are in constant communication 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every year of your life. The conversations you have with yourself could affect the conversations you have with others. The monologue you have with yourself provides guidance for your brain to explain and understand daily encounters. Self-talk can be positive, optimistic, and supportive, or negative and vain. Self-talk can commend an individual’s successes and even drive individuals to overcome internal and external barriers to accomplishments. Negative self-talk or toxic self-criticism can decrease one’s confidence, promoting remorse and restricting personal achievement.

Our team at Symmetry Counseling is here to help guide you through what negative self-talk looks like and what approaches you can take to conquer it and help improve your self-esteem. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and receive the help you deserve. 

What is Negative Self-Talk  

Negative self-talk does not mirror reality and persuades individuals that they may not be adequate and that they can not overcome obstacles, which can lead to decreased confidence and functioning.  This inner dialogue can sound like “I am not good enough for this,” “I’ve done everything, nothing is  going to help,” or “ I don’t deserve to be happy.” This inner dialogue can limit an individual’s belief in their abilities and to reach their full potential. People who trust that their negative self-talk is justifiable tend to believe that this is preparing them for distress or that they deserve what the inner dialogue is saying.  Negative self-talk can be characterized into four categories: personalizing, magnifying, catastrophizing,  and polarizing. Personalizing is when you blame yourself for everything, and it can sound like “I can  never do anything right.” Magnifying is when you focus on a situation’s negative aspects and ignore the positive. Catastrophizing is when you anticipate the worst to happen, rarely giving logical  reasoning behind the thought, which can sound like, “I failed the exam, and now I am going to fail the  class, which will get me kicked out of school.” Polarizing is when you see the world as right or wrong, leaving nothing in between, which could sound like “nobody likes me, I should stop trying to make  friends.” Centering attention on this negative inner dialogue can be linked to depression and anxiety, increased stress levels, and decreased levels of self-esteem

How to Limit Negative Self-Talk  

Gaining insight on when you are being critical is significantly important in catching yourself giving into the negative inner dialogue. To master negative self-criticism, individuals should be aware of thoughts and spot negativity when it emerges. When your inner voice is critical, ask yourself, would you say these comments to your best friend or to your younger self? Try giving this inner critic a nickname, as it will separate this dialogue from your real self. Using compassion-focused therapy (CFT) techniques and mindful self-compassion can be effective in reducing self-criticism and improving mood. For instance, some research has found that reflection may be a beneficial exercise for highly self-critical individuals, leading to a significant decrease in negative emotions. 

Verbally expressing these negative thoughts that have been ruminating in your mind can help you recognize that these thoughts may be unreasonable and unrealistic. “Thought-stopping” is a technique used to suppress and push away toxic self-criticism at a given moment and has been suggested to be beneficial for those who suffer from social anxiety. Thought-stopping is a cognitive behavioral health approach that directs negative thinking patterns and diverts thoughts to thoughts that assist in mitigating discomfort.  

Once you have gained insight into your toxic self-criticism, replacing these thoughts with positive self-talk can be beneficial. Once you start to think positively about yourself, your self-esteem can improve, symptoms of anxiety and depression can lessen, help assist you in feeling in control of your life,  help provide motivation to overcome barriers, and could provide you with tranquility. If you want to take the first step toward improving your self-talk and dealing with your inner dialogue, our team at Symmetry Counseling is here to help. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment. 

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