Updated: Jul 1, 2020
** Disclaimer: I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or anyone with a degree. I cannot diagnose people. I am just a normal person who has survived torment and come out the other side. I have done a lot of research into this topic, and my references can be found below at the bottom of this post.
One of the hardest things I have had to deal with is the negative self-talk. You know those things you say to yourself when you’re down? It was one of the hardest things to get rid of.
A lot of the things that I said to myself were things that had been told to me by my ex with NPD. These negative things had been said so frequently to me, and about me, that they wiggled their way into being my actual thoughts.
It’s taken me a long time to unravel these words, and put into place what is true, and what is not. If you’re going through this, you’re not alone. It’s okay, and it can get better.
The first thing we need to do is this: figure out what the words you say to yourself are, what were the words that were constantly thrown at you on a daily basis. Once we figure these out we can move forward.
So, let’s start. As the words come to you, write them down.
Here are examples of the things that I used to say about myself:
“I’m not worthy”
“I am not perfect”
“I don’t deserve happiness”
“Whenever things go wrong, it must have been something I’ve done”
“I’m an idiot”
“I’m a terrible person”
“I don’t deserve love”
“I’m never going to get over this”
“What is wrong with me?”
“I’m a failure”
“I’m never going to be enough”
“I’m not good enough”
I also became obsessed with worrying about what other people thought about me (another topic, for another day).
Everything that has ever happened in my life, I have taken full responsibility for. It has always been my fault, and I have always expected responsibility, even if I didn’t actually do anything; ”it was my fault for not stopping it from happening”, or “if I hadn’t done this...” or “if I had done this then maybe this wouldn’t have happened”.
I actually blamed myself for things that were in no way my fault. The two car accidents I was in, I’ve taken responsibility for, even though in both cases, someone hit me.
It became so second nature to just talk so poorly about myself, that I believed every negative thought about myself that passed through my head.
How do we stop this? You wrote down your negative thoughts right?
If not, do it. Do it right now. I’ll wait.
Have you done it yet?
Okay, now write down things you feel about yourself.
examples: “I have to be perfect”, “I have to be happy and positive all the time”, “I need to be seen as good enough”, etc.
Now, write out what you think the consequences are if you do are not those things. Like if you are not perfect, what is the consequence of that?
If you are not happy and positive all the time, what’s going to happen?
Write those down. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just write it out.
Okay, ready? Let’s go.
Read them. Read out the things you think about yourself, and what the consequences are, and read them out loud to yourself. Not just in your head. Actually say the words.
I sure was.
The first time I read the negative thoughts I had about myself, I sobbed. This was a trick I learned from my psychotherapist. She had me just say the words and she wrote the out for me on a pink cue card. She asked me to say them out loud, and I sobbed.
It made me so sad for that girl.
That Girl who thought so poorly about herself, but constantly advocated to have other’s love themselves.
That Girl who fought so hard to have other people change their own minds about themselves.
That Girl who would give the shirt off of her back in order to help someone.
That Girl who was so sad, and so lost, and didn’t know who she actually was.
After I stopped crying, my psychotherapist asked me how that made me feel. I told her sad. Sad that someone could think so little of themselves. Then she asked me to read it again. After each time she would ask me how I felt, and what I thought about those words.
Finally after reading it so many times, I reached a point where I suddenly disentangled myself from those words. My psychotherapist asked me again what I thought of those words. I told her this:
“These words are inexcusable. No one should ever think this way about themselves. If someone I loved told me these things about themselves, I would fight tooth and nail until they stopped, and saw themselves for who they truly are. I would never accept this kind of language to come from someone else, so why should I accept it from myself?”
She just smiled at me. She knew I got the point.
This is a practice called brain spotting.
If you are in a negative mindset, your brain will only think negative thoughts.
So what does brain spotting do?
In layman’s terms: the brain hates contradictions. You may know that not everything was your fault, and that you deserve happiness, you deserve love, and you do not believe these things, that’s your Logical Brain. But after abuse, or even after poor self-confidence, and constant negative thoughts about yourself, it is hard for your brain to not think negatively. This is your Emotional Brain. You get in a fight, and instantly your brain thinks: “this is my fault. I should have kept my mouth shut; I’m such an idiot” (that’s what mine did anyway, still does somedays). Reading these negative things out loud, causes your Logical Brain, and your Emotional Brain to think at the same time. And like I said before, your brain hates contradictions. The more you read them, the more it forces your brain to really, really look at them, and distinguish which thoughts are accurate, and which thoughts are made up.
This is the stepping ground to release the negative thoughts about yourself, and untangle yourself from a web of lies.
Okay, so now we’re addressed which thoughts are true, and which aren’t, how do we switch the focus? How do we switch our brains so we do not fall back into the web of negative thoughts?
One of the greatest tools I invested in was from a local Ontario company called Love Powered Co. These two lovely woman have created a fabulous tool of cards with positive affirmations. When I was in the throws of untangling the web of lies I was telling myself, I would read three of these beautiful cards every morning out loud. I would also write them down. I found that repetition is key. I began to tell myself only positive things. Any time I found myself speaking negatively, I would pull a card to remind myself of who I am and what I am worth.
These cards can be purchased here:
These cards really helped to change my life in ways I didn’t think were possible. When I realized how much negative talk I was involved in, I didn’t think anything would stop me from saying nasty things about myself. The constant reassurance everyday that I am okay, it’s okay not to be perfect, I am worthy, I am loved, I deserve happiness and I deserve love, soon became second nature to me. It became a daily ritual, no different than getting dressed and brushing my teeth. It was and still is a part of my morning routine.
Reinforcing your brain to think more positively eventually will become your new normal way of thinking. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and we are all adapting to a new normal, so what’s a little bit more change, in helping yourself?
Talk to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love. Because at the end of the day, the number one person you should love is yourself. If you look at the words you’ve written down, and you woudln’t accept them from your sibling, your partner, or your best friend, why on Earth would you accept them from yourself?
Don’t continue to live a life of negativity.
Don’t continue to be this person:
Change your focus. Change your thoughts. Turn your life into lemonade, and live your life fully.