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Why negative self talk is bad for you (and how to end it in 3 steps)

Why negative self talk is bad for you (and how to end it in 3 steps) Why negative self talk is bad for you (and how to end it in 3 steps)

Maybe mirror mantras aren’t your thing—and that’s totally cool. Not everyone feels comfortable making eye contact with themselves while repeating affirmations predicting health, wealth, and happiness, let alone believing those positive things are surely heading their way just because the vibe is out there. But the truth is, words embody power. And most self-talk tends to skew towards the negative, according to clinical psychologist Ben Martin.

Words carry weight. Not physical weight, not density, though sometimes it can feel that way when someone puts you down or the rumor mill circles back to you. Words also carry energy, and they can be incredibly effective in how you condition yourself. So, whether or not you’re “there yet” with ultra-positive self-talk, it’s time to stop negative self-talk, stat.

What Is Self-Talk?

It’s a Form of Conditioning

In a way, you could say that self-talk is a way in which we program ourselves. A way of thinking about it is called Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which is essentially how the brain processes the language we use to define how we interact with ourselves, situations, and others. Simply put, it’s a strong indicator of how real the mind-body connection is. When we repeat negative self-talk, it accumulates into how we condition ourselves to behave.

SIDE EFFECTS of NEGATIVE Self-Talk

It can be physical. Think about when you step out of the shower and glance at yourself in the steamy mirror. Are your daily thoughts disappointment or disgust, presented via insulting adjectives you would never dream of flinging at another person? If so, you’re essentially programming yourself to truly believe you’re the monster you exaggerate yourself to be.

Self-talk is also performative. Do you berate yourself with derogatory self-assessments every time you make a mistake? You’re then creating an image of an ignorant person not just inwardly, but outwardly as well.

Sometimes this form of dialogue manifests as sarcasm. We often use self-deprecation as a form of humor to fashion ourselves as relatable, likable, and humble. But too often, we default into this mode and overdo it. It can grow to become the dominating side of our personality to our peers, which can be off-putting and self-defeating. Some psychologists argue that a “self‐deprecatory ‘tendency to denigrate’ or ‘disparage’ oneself” can even be associated with depression and anxiety.

Why negative self talk is bad for you (and how to end it in 3 steps)How To STop Negative Self-Talk

Our bodies and body language respond to what we say, even inside our minds. While this influence might seem dangerous or intimidating, it shouldn’t. It just means we wield the power to shift it just as easily.

But as simple as it sounds to say something nicer to or about yourself, long-standing patterns are not so easy to quit. Breaking the cycle takes dedication and constant awareness. Luckily, there are a few ways to dethrone your inner negativity from its power, which Ben Martin, PsyD, defines as challenging your self-talk.

ReStructure Your Language

The first step to effectively stop negative self-talk is to recognize your inner critic. Do you often use extremes when talking to yourself, or about yourself to others? If you find yourself scowling, using extreme words and absolutes (e.g., always, never, everyone, nobody), it’s time to quit. First, such proclamations are almost never accurate. And second, they set yourself up for failure in the future because it’s difficult to part ways from your staunch predictions.

Quit Negative Forecasting

Speaking of predictions, negative forecasting—or what life coach Jack Canfield calls catastrophic predicting—is another form of harmful self-talk. Always assuming the worst is usually a form of protection from disappointment, but in reality, actually leaves us in a consistent state of disappointment.

Get out of constant worst-case-scenario thinking and start planning for things to go well. They won’t always, of course. But positive energy can accumulate to manifest more good than bad, so much so that you’ll start to expect it. Read: Don’t be surprised when good things happen.

Say Goodbye to Guilt

Finally, unpack your bags; we’re not going on that guilt trip. So much negative self-talk is systemic, meaning you’re holding onto baggage from previous mistakes and ruminating on them, assuming that no one has ever forgotten them, and that people you haven’t met yet will probably think the worst of you. Stop hopping on that train to Regretsville and be present. Focus on what you’re doing right now—not what you can’t change in the past, or what could go wrong in the future.

One final tip: Show yourself the love you’d give to a friend. After all, you’d never let someone talk to your BFF the way you let your inner critic treat you sometimes.

We live in a world where there is an epidemic of low self-esteem. It affects almost every aspect of our lives, from how we think about ourselves to the way we think about or react to life situations.

When negative influences and thoughts are prevalent — generated either from within ourselves or through others — it adversely affects the way we feel about ourselves. It also affects the experiences we have in our lives.

Over time this can lead to low self-esteem which can reduce the quality of a person’s life in many different ways. Unchecked, low self-esteem may even lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, sometimes with tragic results.

But what causes low self-esteem? There are many and varied reasons, but according to clinical psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen it’s frequently traced to abusive or dysfunctional early years, the effects of which can persist well into adulthood. It can also be attributed to ongoing stressful life events (e.g., relationship breakdowns; financial troubles; poor treatment from a partner, parent or carer; being bullied; or being in an abusive relationship).

We all know our lives are full of challenges and triumphs, of ups and downs. In today’s world we are only too aware there are many stressors that can cause us to doubt ourselves. And, as doubt creeps into our minds, “I can’t do that” or “I will never overcome this” become mantras that become harder and harder to dismiss.

How often do you think, “if only I believed in myself”?

I recently spoke with psychiatrist Dr. Kevin Solomons, who wrote the book Born to be Worthless: The Hidden Power of Low Self-Esteem. He told me our self-esteem system mostly moves us to make healthy, constructive and adaptive life decisions, but can go wrong, just as any system can.

When it does go wrong, our failing (low) self-esteem can get us to make self-destructive decisions such as tolerating mistreatment or harming ourselves (by using drugs, becoming promiscuous, developing eating disorders or indulging in cosmetic surgery), or harming others (bullying, cheating) in an effort either to make others love us or to numb us to the pain of our own worthlessness.

Any negative life event or reaction can cause us to doubt ourselves. We all have times when things do not go as we think they should. The world can feel lonely in trying to find the right resources to help us at these times — everything can be daunting and even confusing. Often we place too much credibility on the negativity we have around us.

The most important lesson I have finally learned from my own life’s challenges is that it’s not external events that have the most profound effect on our self-esteem. It is how we view our own life and life’s events. Ultimately, it’s the inner belief we have in ourselves that guides our journey. Do we really believe we deserve to live in a bad relationship? Do we really believe we deserve to be mentally or physically abused? Is our negative belief in ourselves keeping us in these negative environments?

In life we are all constantly faced with challenges and changes. As we slowly begin to believe in ourselves, we can discover that although we cannot change our past experiences, we can change the way we think about them. As a result, we can change not only how we think about ourselves, but also identify a way to a better future.

As Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997), psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor famously said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “[E]verything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

This article was co-authored by Rebecca Tenzer, MAT, MA, LCSW, CCTP, CGCS, CCATP, CCFP. Rebecca Tenzer is the owner and head clinician at Astute Counseling Services, a private counseling practice in Chicago, Illinois. With over 18 years of clinical and educational experience in the field of mental health, Rebecca specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety, panic, trauma, grief, interpersonal relationships using a combination of Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Psychodynamic therapy, evidence-based practices. Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology and Anthropology from DePauw University, a Master in Teaching (MAT) from Dominican University, and a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Chicago. Rebecca has served as a member of the AmeriCorps and is also a Professor of Psychology at the collegiate level. Rebecca is trained as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT), a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), a Certified Grief Counseling Specialist (CGCS), a Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP), and a Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional (CCFP). Rebecca is a member of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Society of America and The National Association of Social Workers.

There are 21 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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It’s disheartening to realize you’re shutting out the people you care about, but don’t get down on yourself – you can learn to keep your friends and family members close. Start by working on healing the root causes of your avoidance. Then, strive to be more open with others and learn to make your relationships a priority. Finally, make sure you aren’t accidentally driving people away with annoying personality traits.

If your head is full of negative thoughts, it’s normal to feel down. While it won’t be easy to block out the negative noise, there are steps you can take to turn things around.

This can help if:

  • you’re experiencing depression or anxiety
  • you can’t seem to shift out of a negative way of thinking
  • you want to feel more positive and confident.

Challenging your inner voice

Self-talk is your inner voice – and the hard part about self-talk is that it always feels true, even when it’s biased or incorrect. If you’re experiencing negative thoughts, chances are your self-talk is stuck on a downward slope.

Learning to challenge this vibe might take time and practice, but it’s worth the effort. Once you start clocking how often you hear the negativity, you’ll be surprised at how much of your thinking is geared towards a negative view of things.

Practise: Whenever you become aware that you’re being hard on yourself, talking down your skills and lacking in confidence use this as your signal to stop and check yourself. Are things really as negative as what your inner voice is saying?

If you wake up feeling worthless, stop and re-examine the question: What is my worth and who values it? Look to friends and family, teammates and teachers, as examples of people who value you and your contributions.

Writing it down

It can help to write down your thoughts when you’re feeling negative. The key is to find a way that works for you. Whether that’s jotting them down in a notebook, recording notes on your phone or putting ten minutes aside before bed to check-in with yourself. It’s almost like you’re transferring your thoughts out of your head and into a journal. When making notes, try to put down your thoughts under three headings:

  • What’s the situation?
  • What am I thinking or telling myself?
  • How down/anxious am I on a scale of 1–10?

If you’ve never tried writing down your thoughts before, these are some common obstacles people find:

‘I don’t have any thoughts, I’m just anxious/down.’
Even if you don’t know exactly why you’re anxious at the time, it can help to write down: ‘I don’t know exactly what I’m thinking right now. I wonder if it has something to do with XYZ?’ Sometimes, the process of writing things down can help you to clarify what you’re thinking.

‘My thoughts seem weird when I write them down.’
Even if you know that no one else is going to see what you’ve written, you might feel a bit weird or foolish about it. This reaction isn’t bad at all – it means you’re getting some perspective just by putting your thoughts in writing. Only when you’re fully conscious of your thoughts and aware of what you can control are you able to challenge negative thinking.

‘I don’t have time.’
It can feel like a chore at the beginning, but you don’t have to write down every single thing you’re thinking. Pick a time to get started when you’re feeling moderately anxious or have started feeling some physical symptoms. You could even schedule ten minutes every day to write down your worries.

Playing hardball

After you write your thoughts done, a good way to test how legit they might be is to ask yourself some challenging questions. There are four main types of challenging questions:

1. Questions that act as a reality check:

  • What is the evidence for and against my thinking?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • How can I find out if what I’m thinking is actually true?

2. Questions that seek alternative explanations:

  • Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
  • What else could this mean?
  • If I were being positive, how would I view the situation?

3. Questions that put things in perspective:

  • What’s the best thing that could happen?
  • Is there anything good about this situation?
  • Will this matter in five years’ time?

4. Questions that are goal-directed:

  • Is this way of thinking helping me to achieve my goals?
  • What can I do that will help me solve the problem?
  • Is there something I can learn from this situation, to help me do it better next time?

Talk it out

Ultimately, we all suffer negative thoughts from time to time, but if you’re starting to feel that you can’t flip out of the funk, it’s important to remember that there are ways to conquer the self-doubt. No negative path is permanent, and mastering the art of challenging your own chat will pay off big time.

What can I do now?

  • Try to balance every negative thought with a positive one.
  • Get personalised support for negative thinking with the ReachOut NextStep tool.
  • Get into the habit of tuning into your emotions as a way of checking-in with your thoughts.

Explore other topics

It’s not always easy to find the right place to start. Our ‘What’s on your mind?’ tool can help you explore what’s right for you.

“Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.” William Shakespeare

To understand clinical depression, it is essential to understand that people don’t reflect reality (events, other peoples’ comments etc.) so much as interpret it.

The same event can have completely different meanings to different people, even if their circumstances are the same.

Depression is partly maintained by how we interpret reality. The ‘spin’ we put on things. Knowledge about how this happens can turn lives around.

Remember from the cycle of depression that too many negative, emotionally arousing introspections lead to over-dreaming, which leads to exhaustion and depression.

So, to recap, events don’t have any intrinsic ‘meaning’ until human beings add it.

Say a tree falls over in the forest, and no-one is there. It has no meaning whatsoever. Then along comes a walker, looks at the tree and thinks, “What a shame, such a beautiful old tree blown down in a moment.” (Meaning=sad!)

At the same time a nearby householder looks out of his window and thinks, “What a piece of luck! That tree has blown down and the view is absolutely fantastic now.”

A local beetle considers it great luck because he and his family now have somewhere to live for the next 29 generations! (Meaning=happy!)

In psychotherapy, countless pieces of research have shown that changing the meaning of something for someone is the most effective intervention you can make. Called ‘reframing’, this technique puts a new frame of reference round an event.

This shows that the meaning you attach to things is extremely important in determining how you feel.

Depression can turn good things into bad by applying a meaning that harms us. For example, if I phone someone and leave a message and they don’t get back to me I can tell myself this may be because:

  1. ‘Maybe they are away’
  2. ‘Perhaps they haven’t picked up their messages’
  3. ‘Their machine isn’t working or they phoned back when I was out’
  4. Or: ‘They didn’t phone back because they don’t want to talk to me because they don’t like me!’

Any of these reasons could be true, but depression will tend to make you choose 4), or a similarly depressing explanation.

“People who tend towards analysing what has gone wrong in their lives, reviewing the past selectively (picking out the negative aspects), catastrophising every little setback, dreaming up future disasters or engaging in self-blame, tend to stay locked into the state of depression instead of rising above it. This explains something observed for some time – that depressed people habitually adopt a particular way of thinking to explain things that happen to and around them.”

How to depress yourself

An extremely useful way of looking at thinking is called the ‘explanatory styles’ model (sometimes called attributional styles.)

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It’s been said that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch and often, that applies to the business environment. It’s usually easy to identify that Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer who wreak havoc on morale. Their bad attitudes, catastrophic thinking, and fatalistic outlooks can infiltrate the ranks and spread like an epidemic.

Negative people can also cause problems for us on an individual level. Perhaps it’s that vendor who causes you to grit your teeth. Or maybe it’s a colleague whom you avoid at all costs. It’s important to recognize when these negative individuals intrude in your life in an unwelcome manner.

Sometimes, we unknowingly give toxic individuals influence over our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. Whether you spend two hours complaining about that boss you don’t like, or you let an angry customer ruin your day, it’s important to regain your personal power.

Here are five strategies to take back you power and reduce the detrimental impact negative people have in your life:

1. Guard Your Time

Negative people can monopolize your time – even when they’re not with you – if you’re not careful. It’s easy to spend two hours dreading a one hour meeting with a negative person. Combine that with two hours of venting to a co-worker after the meeting, and you’ve just given that person five precious hours of your time.

Don’t allow negative people to steal your time and energy. Rather than complain about people you don’t enjoy, choose to strike up conversations about pleasurable topics. Similarly, instead of spending your commute thinking about how much you dislike that person you have to work with, turn on the radio and listen to music that reduces your stress. Take back your power by limiting the amount of time you spend talking about, thinking about, and worrying about unpleasant people.

2. Choose Your Attitude

Spending time with negative people can be the fastest way to ruin a good mood. Their pessimistic outlooks and gloomy attitude can decrease our motivation and change the way we feel. But allowing a negative person to dictate your emotions gives them too much power in your life.

Make a conscious effort to choose your attitude. Create a mantra, such as, “I’m going to stay positive today despite the people around me,” and repeat it often to help you stay on track. Take a deep breath and decide that you’re going to make it a great day, despite what others say or do.

3. Refocus Your Thoughts

Negative people often influence what we think about. Perhaps you’re so distracted by your colleague’s know-it-all attitude that you can’t contribute productively to the meeting. Or, rather than think about how to improve your performance, you spend more time thinking about how upset you’ll be if that unpleasant co-worker gets a promotion.

Pay attention to how your thoughts change when you’re faced with negative people. The more time you spend dreading, fretting, worrying, and rehashing, the less time you’ll have to devote to more productive things. Make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of mental energy you expend on negative people.

4. Choose to Behave Productively

Negative people can bring out the worst in us if we’re not careful. S ometimes certain pessimists seem to have the power to raise our blood pressure, for one reason or another. A normally calm, mild-mannered person may resort to yelling when he can’t take one more second of negativity. Or, after being surrounded by negative co-workers for hours, an optimist may find herself convincing others that the company’s future is doomed.

Although it can be tempting to say, “She makes me so mad,” blaming others for your conduct gives them more power. When you act in a manner that isn’t consistent with your usual behavior, accept responsibility for it. Commit to controlling your emotional reactivity and staying true to your values, despite your circumstances.

5. Seek Out Positive People

It’s difficult to look on the bright side when you’re surrounded by negativity. Seek out positive people to keep you balanced. Just like negative people can rub off on you, a positive person can brighten your spirit.

Identify the positive people in your life. Proactively schedule time with them on a regular basis. A quick lunch with a jovial colleague or a family gathering that’s guaranteed to be filled with laughter can help you stay on track.

Decide that you’re not going to allow negative people to determine how you think, feel, and behave. Take back your power and focus your time and energy on becoming your best self.

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, an Amazon top pick for business and leadership books in December.

Why negative self talk is bad for you (and how to end it in 3 steps)

We all have stress — at work, at home, and on the road. Sometimes we can feel especially stressed because of a bad interaction with someone, too much work, or everyday hassles like getting stuck in traffic.

Negative stress can keep you from feeling and performing your best — mentally, physically and emotionally. But no one’s life is completely stress-free. It’s important to know how to manage the stress in your life. Try these three simple techniques for dealing with it.

1. Positive Self-Talk

Let’s be honest, we all talk to ourselves! Sometimes we talk out loud but usually we do it in our heads. Self-talk can be positive (“I can do this” or “everything will be OK”) or negative (“I’ll never get better” or “I’m so stupid”). Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk can help you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones. For example:

Negative to Positive

“I can’t do this.”> “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.”
“Everything is going wrong.” > “I can handle this if I take one step at a time.”
“I hate it when this happens.” > “I know how to deal with this; I’ve done it before.”
“I feel helpless and alone.”> “I can reach out and get help if I need it.” “I can’t believe I screwed up. > “I’m human, and we all make mistakes. I can fix it.”

To really make it work, practice positive self-talk every day — in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts. It’s a great practice to teach kids, too!

2. Top 10 Emergency Stress-Stoppers

Emergency stress stoppers are actions to help you defuse stress in the moment. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations, and sometimes it helps to combine them. Here are some ideas:

  1. Count to 10 before you speak or react.
  2. Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.
  3. Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can help break the tension and give you a chance to think things through.
  4. Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.
  5. If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.
  6. Walk away from the situation for a while, and handle it later once things have calmed down.
  7. Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one step at a time, instead of trying to tackle everything at once.
  8. Turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.
  9. Take a break to pet the dog, hug a loved one or do something to help someone else.
  10. Work out or do something active. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.

3. Stress-Busting Activities

Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to relieve stress and find your happy place. Even when you’re down, you may find pleasure in simple things like going for a walk, catching up with a friend, or reading a good book.

When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes. Some of these activities may work for you:

  • Make art — draw, color, paint, or play a musical instrument.
  • Work on a scrapbook or photo album to focus on good memories.
  • Read a book, short story or magazine.
  • Meet a friend for coffee or a meal.
  • Play a favorite sport like golf, tennis, or basketball.
  • Do a hobby like sewing, knitting, or making jewelry.
  • Play with your kids or pets – outdoors if possible.
  • Listen to music or watch an inspiring performance.
  • Take a walk in nature.
  • Take a relaxing bath and feel the stress wash away.
  • Meditate or practice yoga.
  • Work in the garden or do a home improvement project.
  • Go for a run or bike ride to clear your head.

The key is to find your groove and make it a practice. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you may start to feel better once you disrupt the cycle of stress.

We all need healthy ways to cope with the hard stuff. We’re here to help you find a healthy alternative to self-harm.

What is Self-Harm?

For some people, when depression and anxiety lead to a tornado of emotions, they turn to self-harm looking for a release. Self-harm and self-injury are any forms of hurting oneself on purpose. Usually, when people self-harm, they do not do so as a suicide attempt. Rather, they self-harm as a way to release painful emotions.

Types of Self-Harm

Self-harm can manifest differently for everyone. And, the ways people may self-harm extend far beyond the usual references to cutting in media. Simply, self-harm is anything and everything someone can do to purposely hurt their body.

Here are some of the most common types of self-injury:

  • Cutting
  • Scratching
  • Burning
  • Carving words or symbols into the skin
  • Hitting or punching oneself (including banging one’s head or other body parts against another surface)
  • Piercing the skin with sharp objects such as hairpins
  • Pulling out hair
  • Picking at existing wounds

Symptoms of Self-Harm

Stigma creates shame and embarrassment, making it hard for people who self-harm to get help. So, look out for yourself and for your pals. If you suspect that someone in your life is self-harming, here are some warning signs to keep top of mind:

  • Scars
  • Fresh cuts, burns, scratches, or bruises
  • Rubbing an area excessively to create a burn
  • Having sharp objects on hand
  • Wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather
  • Difficulties with interpersonal relationships
  • Persistent questions about personal identity
  • Behavioral and emotional instability, impulsiveness, or unpredictability
  • Saying that they feel helpless, hopeless, or worthless

Crisis Text Line can help you deal with self-harm. Text a Crisis Counselor at 741741, or use the mobile text button below.

How to Deal With Self-Harm

Emotions can be really painful sometimes. It’s totally normal to need ways to cope with and process the hard things in your life. If you are using self-harm to manage your emotions, we’re here for you. And, we want to help keep you safe.

Here are some ways to push through, process, and cope with your emotions.

  • Text to cool down. If you’re dealing with painful emotions, we’re here to help. Shoot us a text to connect with a real human and strategize healthy coping mechanisms to manage your emotions. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a real human.
  • Get creative. Studies show that diving into making art can help people process emotions. So, next time you’re feeling like self-harming, grab your sharpie and doodle your worries away. A bonus: you can totally suck at it and still reap the same rewards.
  • Find your zen. Keeping yourself safe from self-harming is all about finding healthy alternatives to work through the hard stuff. Researchers found taking time to re-center through meditation to be a powerful way to find your cool and calm. Try using an app like Headspace to get on the meditation bandwagon.
  • Talk to a pro. Self-harm is serious. And, while the intention behind self-harm usually is not death, it can still be dangerous—both physically and emotionally. Talking to someone who can help you find alternatives is incredibly important. Of course, you can start by texting us. Also, consider telling someone you know who can help you connect with a professional.

Why Do People Self-Harm?

Let’s start with this: everyone needs a way to cope with their emotions. People who self-harm have turned to hurting themselves as their coping mechanism to manage their emotions.

So, people might self-harm to:

  • Process their negative feelings
  • Distract themselves from their negative feelings
  • Feel something physical, particularly if they are feeling numb
  • Develop a sense of control over their lives
  • Punish themselves for things they think they’ve done wrong
  • Express emotions that they are otherwise embarrassed to show

Effects of Self-Harm

Self-harm can be seriously dangerous—physically, emotionally, socially, all of it.

Physical Effects of Self-Harm

  • Permanent scars
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Infection
  • Emotional Effects of Self-Harm
  • Guilt or shame
  • A diminished sense of self, including feeling helpless or worthless
  • Addiction to the behavior

Social Effects of Self-Harm

  • Avoiding friends and loved ones
  • Becoming ostracized from loved ones who may not understand
  • Interpersonal difficulty from lying to others about injuries

Recovering from Self-Harm

A lot of people who self-harm do so because they are dealing with painful emotions. If this applies to you, hi—we believe in you and recognize your pain. Because painful emotions are at the root of self-harm, quite often recovering from self-harm involves addressing emotions.

Breaking away from the cycle of self-harm can feel like a huge climb. It involves breaking a habit that has once brought comfort from pain. But, it is not impossible. Here are some steps to set you up for success:

  • Name your reason for hurting yourself and your reason for quitting. Ask yourself: “What do I feel before, during, and after self-injury? Which of those emotions do I actively seek out, and which are harmful?”
  • Identify other ways of achieving the same result. For example, if you self-harm for the physical sensation, seek other ways of releasing endorphins, like exercise. For real, try throwing a few punches at a kickboxing class or tapping it back in a spin class with the *perfect* playlist. If you self-harm to express your emotions, practice expressing them in words by writing them down. Grab a pen and your favorite notebook, or start typing away in your notes app.
  • Tackle the underlying emotions. Explore the feelings that lead you to want to hurt yourself. If it’s guilt, where is that guilt coming from? Maybe try finding a therapist—there are pros trained specifically to help with this.
  • Tell someone you trust. Let a friend, family member, or trusted adult know what you’re going through and that you need their support. Opening up to people can be easier said than done. Here’s a place to start: “I’m having a hard time processing some painful emotions and I could use your support right now.”

Getting healthy—both in your brain and in your body—takes hard work. You got this. And, we believe in you.

Text a Crisis Counselor at 741471 or use the mobile click to text button below. You’re not alone.

Why negative self talk is bad for you (and how to end it in 3 steps)

With the country consumed in fierce politics and heated rhetoric ahead of the midterm elections and hearings to decide the fate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it may be hard to stay civil in your own small corner of the world.

“It’s difficult for anyone to escape being influenced. because it is all around us,” Kathleen Kelley Reardon, an expert on persuasion and interpersonal communication, told TODAY.

“It’s very difficult to deny the existence of an increasing acceptance of and participation in meanness.“

If you find yourself stuck in a negative conversation at work or at home, step back and realize you have the power to turn things around.

Related

What to say (and not say) to someone who is depressed What to say (and not say) to someone who is depressed

Reardon, professor emerita at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, believes in the 75 percent rule — you are 75 percent responsible for how others treat you.

In a conversation with another person, you’re already 50 percent responsible, she said. With the right approach, you’re even more in charge — an important skill.

“Conversations are building blocks of relationships,” Reardon noted.

If you feel your interaction with someone spiraling into negativity, here are eight strategies to get back on track:

1. Be aware of your buttons.

Even if you’re not aware of what sets you off in a negative direction, you can be sure others have been observing you and know when to press your buttons.

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“We make ourselves very predictable,” Reardon said. “Other people will begin to realize that you are really a creature of your pattern and they can manage you.”

If someone sees you are sensitive on a particular issue, for example, and knows you’ll come out fighting if she brings it up, she can manipulate you into that action. Be aware of what’s going on and snap out of your pattern.

2. Put what’s being said in a different light.

If someone characterizes your discussion as a “fight,” you might counter by saying: “No, we’re having a discussion,” or “This is a debate, not a fight.” Reframing an interaction this way can completely alter what the person does or says next.

“Communication is a lot like chess,” Reardon said. “That means that every choice one person makes limits the other person’s choices. So if you reframe it as a discussion, then the rules both parties know for discussion call for more civility and more listening.”