July is pattern month here at SCB. Check out the intro post here
How you speak to yourself is important.
The pattern of your inner monologue – the way to treat praise or critique, and the way you react to making a mistake or achieving a goal is a really powerful pattern.
Negative self talk can contribute to wider mental health issues, compounding negative effects of stressful situations. For example, if you make a harmless mistake, you may make the situation harder on yourself if you talk to yourself negatively, calling yourself names, or making yourself feel worthless.
Negative self talk can also manifest as caveating praise, or achievements. Feeling like people are just saying things to be nice, or feeling your achievements are less because you had help or similar. Harvard has put together 10 types of negative thought patterns that you may find useful to compare your thoughts to: https://sdlab.fas.harvard.edu/cognitive-reappraisal/identifying-negative-automatic-thought-patterns
Having this as your inner voice can really affect your confidence and self-esteem.
Changing this can seem like a mammoth task. Your inner monologue sometimes can be more feeling based than word based, so there may not be a ‘voice’, just a feeling of being bad or wrong in someway when something bad happens or a general feeling of not being good enough. It can be based on replaying past events, or replaying things other people have said to us that we’ve then internalised. It can happen instantly, almost subconsciously.
The first step is noticing how you speak to yourself. Like really noting how you speak to yourself, or how you feel about yourself, and times when those thoughts or feelings are at their most intense. You can make a note of what caused these feelings or thoughts to start, and what the shape of these are (so does it make you feel worthless, or actively a bad person, do you feel selfish, etc). Note how you feel, whether defeated or sad, or embarrassed.
Remember that when you note these things down no one else has to see them, so you can be as honest as you can be, because they’re just for you.
Noting the habit makes it a lot more noticeable. Once it’s noticeable, you can start to change your inner monologue and self-talk.