Negative Self-Talk that happens on a Monday is harder to swallow than self-talk that happens on other days of the week. Or maybe that’s just me. I had the kind of morning that caused me to reflect on the Negative Self-Talk that chimed into my brain first thing in the morning. One where I wished I could call it a day by the time 10AM rolled around.
Tidying up the house, I picked up a bunch of things that needed to be taken to other rooms. The bottle of water cradled in my right arm was cap-less because I was swigging it while cleaning up. When I dropped something on the floor, I bent over, not realizing that the water cascaded out of the bottle until there was a puddle at my feet.
I exclaimed a few choice words. Typical names or traits I call myself rambled out of my mouth as reflexively as any sort of curse word. (There might have been one or two of those, too.) The sorts of words I exclaimed definitely fell into the category of “negative self-talk”.
After sopping up the water with a wad of Bounty, I headed downstairs to do some mundane tasks on my laptop. I set up shop at the kitchen table with the newly refilled bottle of water (with the cap securely tightened). Now is a good time for a snack, I thought. And I pulled the box of Cheez-Its from the cabinet. I got down to business, typing away, doing my thing. Man, those crackers were tasty. Sip, sip. Crunch, crunch.
Engrossed in my laptop screen, I failed to realize the box of crackers that teetered close to the edge of the table. I managed to knock the open box over. Cheez-Its subsequently decorated the kitchen floor.
And then another string of the “typical names or traits I call myself” escaped my lips.
Even therapists aren’t immune from negative self-talk. Furthermore, therapists aren’t immune from a lot of things, but that’s a whole other blog post for another day.
Through the course of the day, I reflected on how that nagging little voice and the unpleasant repercussions it can cause, including low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. The running commentary doesn’t have to control us. Working with a therapist can help govern how much it affects our feelings.
The way many therapists operate, including myself, is getting to know you, based on your own history, strengths, and preferences. Together, we develop a plan of what might work best. Feeling better in your own skin can involve some detective work such as establishing connections between the patterns of our families and how we react to adversity as adults.
It can also be helpful to take a look at situations similar to the one I had this morning. How do you respond when you mess up? Like the time you accidentally left the lights on and your car battery went dead. Or last week when you said you’d pick up dinner for your family and then you accidentally went home from work without it. What sorts of things do you say to yourself?
Finally, you might have never given a thought to that internal tape that comments on your movements throughout the day. I will often encourage my clients to spend the week really paying attention to what it says. When we see each other again, we first categorize what we’ve heard. Then we develop ways of responding to that voice with something more constructive than the usual litany of “typical traits and names”.
If you would like to explore the possibility of working with me, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My practice is located in Livingston, New Jersey.