Negative self-talk can be in the form of generalisations, negative rationalisation and transposition. It always destroys you from within. ILLUSTRATION
Jacinta had just lost another client. As she walked back to her office, angry with herself, she mumbled, “I knew that I should never have agreed to take up that client!
I should have prepared more! I never do anything right!” She did not see Juma, the head of Human Resources, until it was too late.
Her files flew into the air as she and Juma collided on the corridor. “Sorry for that,” she offered apologetically as the two picked up the papers that were strewn all over the place.
As they organised the file, he commented, “You are Jacinta, our new marketing manager. Everyone tells me you are a great marketer. How are you doing?”
Jacinta paused for a long moment, then replied, “I’ve not been doing too well,” she began. “Every time I undertake an assignment, it ends up in disaster. I seem to be causing more and more problems each day instead of coming up with solutions. I can’t take this anymore.
Each time I interact with a customer, I feel that I have not done as well as I could or should have. I have begun dreading these meetings because I come out feeling depressed and a total failure….” her voice trailed off as tears welled up in her eyes.
Juma said, “Actually, I have been told that you have great potential. I was coming to your office to brief you on a major assignment that you will be discussing with the Managing Director this afternoon. But first let me tell you something I learnt a few years ago.
FEEDBACK TO SELF
“You are not a failure. What you are going through is a process of giving yourself negative feedback and negative self-talk. The problem is not how you interact with your clients but how you interpret your interactions. Whenever you berate yourself, you lose self-confidence.
I have received reports that you are doing a great job, but you have been convincing yourself that you are doing a terrible job. Negative self-talk can be in the form of generalisations, negative rationalisation and transposition. It always destroys you from within.
Generalisation occurs when you have negative self-belief which then manifests in negative self-talk. For example, if you say, ‘I’m always messing up things’, this is not always true. You can think of many instances you have done a good job and not messed up!
Secondly, you irrationalise when you draw conclusions that are not supported by facts. For example, if you did a good job and your boss did not congratulate you, you conclude that you must have messed up somewhere, which is why he did not call to congratulate you. Or, if you had been told that women should not address crowds, you say, “I am a woman, I can’t address a crowd”. That is irrational.
Finally, you transpose negative feelings in one area of your life to other areas. For instance, if you are shy, you conclude that you have no leadership skills.
Jacinta was intrigued. She asked, “How do I change my negative self-talk?” Juma replied, “First, you must monitor your self-talk. What are you telling yourself? Which words do you continually use on yourself? Are the generalisations you make about yourself factual?
What you need to change is the feedback you have been giving yourself. Your response must be different and your negative self-talk must become positive self-talk.
Everything begins with the beliefs we have of ourselves and our abilities. These are often the beliefs we picked up from our parents and significant others as we grew up. Question the source and validity of your beliefs.
If need be, carry a notebook and note down how you talk to yourself in various situations. Some people say to themselves, “I am stupid”. You are not. Stop that negative self-talk before it stops you!”, Juma concluded.