How to Stop Negative Internal Dialogue

When you listen to your inner voice, do you hear words of encouragement and praise or condescending remarks and put-downs? In other words, is your inner dialogue that of a coach helping you to reach your highest potential, or more of an abusive parent trying to make you feel worthless and stupid? Read our 6 tips and learn how to stop negative internal dialogue once and for all.

More often than not, our inner voice is not very kind, and sometimes it is downright mean. It’s the voice that says that we can’t do something or that we’re not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough. It’s the inner critic telling us that we’ll never succeed.

The problem is that we often listen to this inner voice. We begin to believe what it has to say. We let it stop us from reaching our goals or pursuing our dreams. We even use it as an excuse to not even try.

So, how do you get that negative internal dialogue to stop so that you can do the things you want, be the person you desire and finally free yourself from the chains of self-disbelief?

Here are some steps you can take to help in the process:

Step #1: Acknowledge your inner dialogue

When you truly pay attention to the number of times your inner voice talks to you during the course of a day, you may find yourself amazed at how often it is present. Because you hear it all the time, you’re likely to be listening to it without even realizing it.

It’s like living next to a set of railroad tracks or a busy airport. Because you grow so familiar with the noises, you no longer hear them. They exist, but more so in the background than in the forefront.

Pay attention to the regularity behind your inner voice. See how often you’re making statements to yourself that are hindering your ability to do great things. Acknowledgement is the first step in any process of change.

Step #2: Challenge your inner voice’s statements

businesspeople with briefcase and organizer walking on sidewalk

If some stranger were to walk up to you right now and tell you that they don’t think you’re nice, what would you do? Would you believe them or would you challenge what they told you and point out all the reasons that they are wrong?

Hopefully, you would choose the latter. You would stick up for yourself and not believe them because you know that you are a great person with a lot of wonderful qualities.

You need to have that same attitude when it comes to your inner voice. When it tells you that you’re “bad” or you’re “stupid”, then challenge it. Don’t just accept what it is saying as truth.

Step #3: Quiet your inner dialogue

Once you get to the point where you can acknowledge what your inner voice is saying and challenge its validity, then you need to learn to quiet it. Like a lot of people in our lives, just because it has a voice doesn’t mean that it should be using it.

When you notice that you’re saying unkind or unhelpful things to yourself, it’s time to turn down the volume. You need to make sure that the negative dialogue isn’t anywhere near as loud as the positive dialogue.

One way to do this is to imagine that you have a remote control for your negative inner voice. When you hear it talking, it’s time to hit the volume control button to turn it down or, if you’re feeling extremely powerful, hit the power button and turn it off completely.

Step #4: Replace your negative dialogue with positive dialogue

face reflection mirror

Now that your mind is not using precious time listening to the negative internal dialogue you’ve been hearing for way too long, it’s time to replace it. It’s time to get some positive internal dialogue coming your way.

For example, when you hear yourself say that you can’t do something, replace it with the fact that you can. When you hear that you’re not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough replace it with the statement that you are good enough, smart enough and pretty enough. Whatever your negative inner voice says to you, just replace it with the exact opposite wording.

Essentially, you’re letting yourself know that you’re done just sitting idly by while saying mean, horrible and nasty things to yourself. You’re not going to let someone else do it to you, so you certainly aren’t going to do it to yourself.

Step #5: Believe the positive dialogue

This is probably the most difficult step. Chances are good that you’ve been listening to the inner voice for quite some time. So, changing the way you talk to yourself is one thing – believing what you’re saying is something completely different.

There is something you can do to help you with this particular step though. Make a list of all your positive qualities. Come up with all the things you like about yourself as well as things that others have complimented you on.

For example, if you’re the type of friend that is always there when in need, write it down. If you’re kind, considerate or compassionate, add it to the list. Are you a hard worker, team player and mentor to others in your field? Make sure it’s on there. Include everything good about yourself that you can think of.

Now, when you hear your inner voice start to chastise you, call you names or cut you down and you start to believe it just pull out that list. Point out all the good qualities that you have that make the voice wrong. It’s easier to believe at that point because you already know those things are true. They’re on your list.

Step #6: Always be a work in progress

young woman looking out of the window wrapped in ablanket

You don’t have to be perfect to feel good about yourself. All you have to be is the best person you can be at this moment in time.

That being said, if you recognize a shortcoming of yours and are working on it, then remember that you’re a work in progress. So, when you’re inner voice wants to point out something you did wrong or something that you’re not exceptional in, you can quiet it by the fact that you’re striving to make changes. Just because you’re in the trial and error phase, doesn’t mean that you’re worthless. It just means that you’re not where you want to be yet.

Learning to no longer listen to the bad comments and put-downs and changing them to supportive and encouraging comments takes time and practice. But as long as you stay persistent, you will eventually learn to get rid of that negative voice that drains your energy and replace it with a positive, uplifting voice that makes your heart want to sing.

What do you have to lose by trying to stop your inner critic? Other than decades of self-abuse?

About the author

Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.

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