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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday's Psychology Tips: Cleaning Inner Mirrors: How To Stop Negative Thoughts & Improve Self Esteem

Thought for the Day: Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of cleaning the outdated, negative self thoughts out of closets in your mind. I relayed a story of a client named June who is tormented by self doubts. Today, I will offer some suggestions which can help fight negative self talk and doubts. 

Current psychological studies have found that your thoughts impact on how you feel.  It's not surprising that negative thoughts can bring you down while positive thoughts can be up-lifting. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of depression is negativity. When someone suffers from depression, not only do they see catastrophe around every corner, they also are plagued by  constant questioning of their self worth. This is true for people regardless of their professional and personal accomplishments. The consequences if depression is left untreated can be deadly. The recent suicide of Robin Williams is a sad reminders of the dangers of depressive thinking. 

The most successful treatment for depression combines antidepressant medication with psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral techniques have been highly effective. If you are suffering from self doubts and recrimination like June, here are 4 things you can do. 

1) Start by learning what Cognitive Behaviorists call "thought stopping." When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, stop the thought and replace it with positive thought. Do something that makes you feel good. Turn on the radio and sing along. Call a friend. Take a brisk walk. The important thing is to stop the negative thought as soon as possible. 

2) To make thought stopping easier, prepare a list of alternative positive thoughts to replace the negative ones when they arise. Start by writing down at least 10 things that you like about yourself. When self doubts start invading your mind, focus on one of the good traits you have on your list. 

3) If you have trouble coming up with positive things for your list, ask a close friend or family member to help you by writing a list of your 10 best attributes. If you are on Facebook you could send it out as a game or a contest to get the most likes and shares. If someone shares 10 positive adjectives that describe you on your page, you will do the same for them. 

4) Once you have the list, you can use them to counteract negative self talk. You can also read your lists before you go to sleep every night to reinforce a more positive self image. 

Although this may feel awkward or in-genuine at first, do it anyway. You may be surprised when you hear how your friends and family see you. Their positive feedback will help you internalize new more accurate internal mirrors and help you develop a more positive self image. 

Tomorrow learn why it is so hard to let go of the negative self images. 

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