Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Negative Self Talk and How It Can Relate to Poor Self Esteem and Social Phobia

In clinical practice, one of the biggest problem I see are the people with the core belief that, "Iam not good enough".  Now, when you couple this with a bit of anxiety, then this can lead to a fear of being judged.  Taking to the extreme, this can then lead to social phobia.

Often people do not know where they get that core belief from.  It maybe from there upbringing.  Partly, it maybe from their own temperament or past traumas.  However, in my opinion, one of the main factors is actually their own negative self talk.  They often are very self critical and would say horrible things to themselves like, "Iam stupid", "Why did I do that", "Why Iam so useless" and so on.

When asked if they would say these words to their best friend, the answer is predictably, "No, because it will affect their self esteem and overall, it does not help them.  When people make a mistake, we should encourage them to embrace it and learn from their mistakes."

So my challenge to people is always this.  If you don't say this to your best friend for fear that it will affect their self esteem, then why on earth are you doing it to yourself.  Sometimes, saying those critical words to yourself is far worse than somebody else saying that to you, as what you say to yourself, you know that you mean it to the core.  Why do we do this to ourselves?

I think that during our childhood, when we were critical of others, we often get in trouble for it as it was socially unacceptable.  However, when we did this to ourselves, no one else was really aware and hence, we just "got away with it".  As a child, we often thought that it was harmless and hence, the behaviour continued.

So next time you catch youself out saying nasty things to yourself, try to put yourself in the mindset of talking to your best friend.  Remember to be tactful, kind, helpful, and compassionate to yourself.

It is also very important to be mindful of your own children's self talk, and help them to be aware of it.  Try to help them change their own self talk into something more positive and helpful through co regulation.

Remember, the earlier we intervene, the easier it will be.

Dr Vin
Family Doctor

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