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'Words have a magical power. They can either bring the greatest happiness or the deepest despair'

True words from Sigmund Freud.

We're very careful about the words we say to others, but just how careful and caring are we to ourselves?

Self-talk is the way we all speak to ourselves, our internal chatter, and we're often our own harshest critics. We might not be aware that we're doing it, but we almost certainly are. This inner voice, with it's continual chatter, questioning and mocking, combines our conscious thoughts and experiences with our unconscious beliefs and biases to create an internal monologue throughout our day, sometimes with cruel, hurtful words.

This internal monologue is the way we all talk to ourselves, and our inner voice has a huge impact on how we feel and what we think and do-if it's supportive!

If it's critical or negative though, it undermines our confidence and our self-worth.

Negative self-talk is repetitive and often doesn't reflect reality. It can lead to rumination, an endless loop of intrusive, negative thoughts and feelings. It's pessimistic and focuses on the worse case scenario, which erodes our confidence and stops us reaching our full potential. It makes us believe that we'll fail, before we've even tried, leading to stress, anxiety and depressive thoughts, it's a negative cycle, but it can be broken.

Some tips to stop these cruel words are:

  • Be aware of what you're saying to yourself: the simple step of catching yourself, stopping and noticing negative thoughts is the first step to working through the problem i.e. 'Would I talk to my friend like this?'

  • Challenge the chatter: Ask yourself 'Is this true?' 'How likely is this to happen?'

  • Get some perspective: Try writing the thought down, seeing it on paper can change the power it has over you. Think if it'll matter in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months etc? It likely won't!

  • Distraction: If you find yourself in a spiral of negative self-talk: Go for a walk, phone a friend or do the washing-up, just to take your mind off it for a while.

What would you say to a friend who was struggling with their inner critic? Try being your own friend for a change, speak to yourself kindly and always remember that the relationship you have with yourself is the most important and the longest one you'll ever have. Kind words cost nothing, be kind to yourself.

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