Career & Business Thoughts: Managing Negative Self-Talk

by - 9/07/2017 10:51:00 PM


The way we talk inside our own minds isn’t really given enough focus in everyday life. We often talk about how other people speak to one another; the damage that negative talk from someone we care about can wreak. But rarely do we actually investigate the voice in our mind; the conversations we have internally.

Of course, they’re not ‘conversations’ in the literal sense - it’s not like you can sit down and have a heart-to-heart with your mind. Instead, the phrase that’s most commonly used by psychologists is “self-talk”. It’s the voice inside your mind that is undeniably you; the thoughts are yours, but they don’t always quite add up with what we’d like to believe about ourselves.

When self-talk veers into the negative, it can be extremely problematic - especially if you’re trying to forge a career or run a business.

An Example To Consider

Let’s say that you have been making handmade soaps for a few years now. You first did it as a hobby, but it’s soon become obvious that you’re actually pretty good at it. After the enthusiastic response of your friends and family, you began selling a few soaps - one crucial sale at a time - on Etsy.

That’s gone pretty well, too. In fact, you’re now at a point where you’re wondering if perhaps there’s a business in your handmade soap hobby. Perhaps you could think about moving things forward a level. Perhaps you could sell in greater quantities; perhaps there are more lines you might be able to add to help expand the brand. There’s a lot of possibilities, and it seems that there’s demand for what you’re coming up with.

At the moment you start to truly think about bringing these plans to fruition, the negative self-talk suddenly rears its ugly, unwanted head. As you’re looking through branding a company, the voice pipes up: “you know you can’t really do this, right? It’s one thing to have a few customers, but expansion is beyond you…”

You dismiss it because it’s always easy to dismiss the first time. The second time is trickier, though. As you’re investigating how you could come up with a supply chain and looking into warehouse labour hire to help manufacture your soaps on an industrial level, that voice prods at you again: “you’re not capable of this, you know. You’re going to end up financially ruining yourself…”

This time it’s harder to ignore. By the time the third, fourth, and fifth instances kick in - it’s well and truly got your attention. Suddenly, you begin to think that maybe it’s got a point. Despite all the signs of your ability being there - the praise from friends and family, the existing business that’s in demand - you begin to listen more to the voice inside your head than the outside evidence.

This can happen in regards to any career or business opportunity. That little voice might tell you to stop applying for better jobs because you wouldn’t be able to do them anyway. Or it can tell you that your business isn’t going to work, you’re not a strong enough business leader, and you should give up before the inevitable failure.

And you listen to that self-talk.


Why Is Negative Self-Talk So Believable?

For one thing, it’s difficult to shake. Think about it. If there was an unpleasant person in your life who was constantly telling you that you couldn’t do something, then you’d probably be furious, and get rid of that person from your life. You can’t do that when the voice is coming from inside of your own head.

There is also no one to counter this constant slew of negative self-talk. There’s no friend or family member to intersect on your side, no one to tell that voice they’re talking nonsense or not to be trusted. You’re the only one who hears it and unless you tell someone about it, you’re the only one who can deal with it. Even if you do tell someone, they’re still not going to be able to stop it from happening.

Is Negative Self-Talk Always Bad?

It’s important to try and draw a distinction between negative self-talk that is damaging, a self-talk that is actually making a good point. If, for example, a voice in your head is whispering: “you’re over-committing to something you don’t have time for” - then that’s unlikely to be true negative self-talk. Instead, it’s a good point and something you need to listen to.

How Can You Identify Negative Self-Talk?

Any talk that is particularly vague is probably unhelpful. If it’s just saying: “you can’t do this” or “you’re not good enough for this” - without any specific reason for that belief - then it’s right to dismiss it. Without justification, this is just negativity for no purpose, which means you’re safe to be dismissive of it.

How Can Negative Self-Talk Be Handled?


If there is a thought nagging in the back of your mind, then don’t leave it there. Write it down and then challenge it directly, rather than just trying to brush past it and ignore it. It’s even more helpful if you can take those thoughts to your family and friends; see what they would say about you having these kinds of thoughts, and how they would counter them.

It’s also important to give your mind the chance to rest as much as possible. The busier your mind is, the more likely it is to start delving into the world of negative self-talk. Giving your mind a rest is relatively simple; it means getting a good night’s sleep, try yoga, maybe even taking the time to meditate wherever possible. Anything that just helps you to clear the thoughts from your mind and have a break is a good idea.

Negative self-talk can truly hold you back, undermining your confidence in yourself - but it can be beaten. Your business dreams or your career goals are achievable, and you are capable of making them a reality - no matter what that little voice in the back of your mind has a tendency to tell you.

You May Also Like