Written by: Carl Puleo, LPCA
In a previous article I discussed self-talk and how we all talk to ourselves. However, when we engage in Negative Self-Talk it leads to a lot of problems that usually send us to see a counselor for help. One of the processes of overcoming Negative Self-Talk is what I call “Throwing a BRICK at Negative Self-Talk”. BRICK is an easy-to-remember acronym and image to help you recall the steps involved.
B—Become aware of your self-talk
When you begin to practice eavesdropping on your self-talk, you will develop a stronger sense of self-awareness. To do this, you will need to ask yourself from time to time, “What was I just thinking about?” Take any and every free moment you have to pause and “listen” to your thoughts.
R—Recognize Negative Self-Talk when it occurs
Once you become adept at “hearing” your internal dialog, (your Self-Talk), then you can begin to recognize the content. If you are experiencing strong negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety, depression or anger, chances are you just had a moment of Negative Self-Talk. Again, ask yourself the question, “What was I just thinking?”
I—Instantly talk back to your Negative Self-Talk
Whenever you catch yourself engaging in Negative Self-Talk say something to yourself right away such as: “Hold on a second!” or “Wait. That was negative.” By acknowledging your Negative Self-Talk you will begin to break the habit of talking to yourself in this way. Telling your Negative Self-Talk to “be quiet for a second” leads to the ability to change it.
C—Change it into a more reasonable, positive statement
When you are able to listen to your self-talk and recognize when it is negative, you then can begin changing Negative Self-Talk into Reasonable Self-Talk. Here is an example:
You accidentally spill your drink all over your lap.
Oh my God! I am such a slob! I can’t believe I did that.
Feelings in Response to Negative Self-Talk:
Unhealthy Negative Feelings (Sadness, Anger, Shame, Poor self-image)
Hold on a second. That was really negative.
I had an accident that is all. Accidents happen. I didn’t do it on purpose and I am not usually this
messy. I’ll just clean myself up and go on.
Feelings in Response to Reasonable Self-Talk:
Healthy Negative Feelings (Disappointment, Frustration, Annoyance)
This type of positive self-talk is reasonable and based on a more rational point of view. The self-talk was initially negative and by instantly talking back and changing it to a more reasonable response you can expect to have different feelings as a result. Notice that the feelings following the Negative Self-Talk were Unhealthy Negative Feelings. And the response to the Reasonable Self-Talk was Healthy Negative Feelings. Let’s face it, no one can smile and be happy when something goes wrong. But being disappointed and annoyed is a lot less damaging than beating up on yourself and being depressed. Being frustrated is a lot less extreme than experiencing anger and rage.
K—Keep telling yourself this positive statement over and over
The key to overcoming poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety and anger is by challenging and changing Negative Self-Talk into Reasonable Self-Talk. And by repeating to yourself Reasonable Self-Talk you will create the habit of positivity. So once you establish a more reasonable positive self-talk statement, keep repeating it to yourself throughout the rest of your day and the next time you have a negative experience you will begin to automatically have Reasonable Self-Talk instead of Negative Self-Talk.