Negative self talk plagues most people. It creeps in and can be destructive to how you feel about yourself and can impact your relationships in a negative way. If you allow negative thinking to continue for long periods of time, it can lead to unhappiness and a self destructive mindset.

One of the best ways to conquer something is to learn more about it. Understanding when you are vulnerable to negative self talk will help you fight it off before it spirals.

Below are a few examples of styles of negative self talk that trap people along with alternatives thoughts to shift into:

1. Filtering: A person who filters takes negative details and magnifies them while filtering out the positive aspects of a situation. They see the glass half empty.

Possible Alternative: Apply the ‘at least’ principle to a situation. When something bad happens, fill in the blank- “At Least _________”. This helps people look for a positive in the midst of a problem and avoid getting lost in the struggle. Sometimes it is hard to find the silver lining during a struggle, but focusing on any simple positive can help shift your mindset out of the darkness.

2. Polarized Thinking: This person sees things as black or white, good or bad, or all or nothing. They feel the need to be perfect, otherwise they become a failure. There is no middle ground.

Possible Alternative: Practice SOME instead of all or nothing. Finding balance in “some” can be so freeing. Many perfectionists struggle negotiating that “some” can be enough and ok. But the more they practice it, they easier it is to let go of the never ending journey to be perfect.

3. Overgeneralizing: This person makes a general conclusion based in a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, it’s expected to happen over and over again.

Possible Alternative: Remind yourself that just because it happened doesn’t mean it will always happen. Absolute thinking is using words like  “always, never, every time, all the time, etc.”, which are rarely true. Just trust your instincts and stay aware. If something bad happens again,  look for the lesson to be learned and seek opportunities to set boundaries rather than getting lost in absolute thinking.

4. Mind reading: This person is a detective that studies body language, tone, and a person’s words to determine the hidden meaning and thinking of someone. They often assume and jump to conclusions based on imagined perceptions.

Possible Alternative: When you start to head down this road, stop and ask a clarifying question. This blocks you from entering the never ending spiral of mind reading. If you want to know what someone is meaning or thinking…ask! Assumptions are always dangerous.

Next time you see yourself slipping into one of these destructive traps, use the alternative in order to shift down a healthier path!