There are a few things you can do to help reduce and quieten negative self talk, and one of the first ones after noticing the pattern, is to sit with your feelings. But what does that mean?
Let’s start with why: feelings and thoughts aren’t facts. They just exist. If you can change how you respond to these thoughts and feelings, you can change how they affect you. This includes negative self talk. It’s a pattern of thoughts, and the thoughts and how you respond to them can be changed.
The idea isn’t to override negative self talk with positive necessarily, it’s more about reframing them and being compassionate to yourself.
Approaching your feelings with curiosity, mindfulness, and with no judgement is the aim. It takes practice to get there, and to learn how best to do this for you. This is a process, and it’s important to allow yourself to make mistakes, and learn and move on, without berating yourself.
Sitting with feelings (both positive and negative), is an important step in getting to know yourself better. There are a few things you can do you to help with this work:
- Set a time and place. Doing this in a specific time and place means you can make sure you have uninterrupted time and space to do this work. It means you have control over your surroundings, which can be grounding.
- If you can and need to, you can do this work with a professional.
- If you’re concerned, you can set up a safety plan, involving some grounding techniques to help you not get too overwhelmed, maybe arranging for someone to send you a message at the end of the session so you have something to respond to and focus on. They can also be someone who can help if you need help.
- For more professional or immediate help, you can reach out to your therapist or counselor if you have one, search for resources in your area, and you can check out the links listed on the Helplines and Resources page
- Commit to that time. This may help with starting – it can be hard to start something when you’re not sure how long you’ll need to do the thing, but having a specific slot in your schedule will help to start to give you a solid framework. You can always go over or under if needed.
- Finish at the end of your time. This will help you not get too lost in your feelings, or go too far down a rabbit hole.
During The Session
- Note your feelings. Accept them. Feel them, both mentally and physically. Remind yourself that they’re not facts. Then attempt to let them pass, let them go. If you can’t name your feelings, you can note how they affected you. What physical sensations did you feel?
- Meditation might be helpful. You can try some guided meditations, or simply sit and see what feelings and thoughts bubble up to the surface. Again, the idea is to feel them, accept them, and then move on. If sitting still isn’t an option for you, moving meditation, the act of doing something repetitive and fairly mindless (knitting/crochet/cross stitch/colouring/walking/etc) can help you get into a meditative place.
- If you catch yourself going down a rabbit hole of feelings, you can gently redirect your brain back to now by grounding yourself. Do breathing exercises, or a grounding technique https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques
After The Session
- Take a bit of time to breathe, maybe take some notes and reflect on what you felt, and how you responded to those feelings.
- Celebrate that you’ve spent time on yourself
- This work can be tiring, which is another reason I advise setting aside a specific amount of time. You’ll need a break after to help you transition back into your day, and also recharge a bit.