Listen to 17 minute coaching session mp3 file 

In Laura's session we began to explore new ways of relating to her sabotaging gremlin. She was clear that her negative self-talk was causing stress, and limiting her thinking and potential.

Here are some simple strategies for waving goodbye to negative self-talk in the rear view mirror:

  1. Keep track of your thoughts. The first step in changing any habit is to know what is happening now. Take three breaths and mindfully notice the voice and its flawed message. Or, keep a notebook handy. Each time you think or say something negative about yourself, record it. 
  2. Say stop. Once you have created an awareness of your habit, create a practice of gently interrupting the thought with a word or phrase like "Stop!" or "Turn it around!" - or just smile and see the humor in the voice's insistence that it is right.
  3. Use gentler kinder words. Replace the harsh words that you use with ones that are less intense. "I am so angry with myself!" could be rephrased as "I am a little frustrated with myself, but only for a few moments," for example.
  4. Ask a question. When you have made a negative conclusion about yourself, ask a provocative question "What else am I feeling?" or "What is really going on here?" This will help uncover the deeper and truer feelings beneath the surface reaction.
  5. Feeling or fact? Separate what happened from what you thought about it. For example, if you fall down in front of a group of people, focus on the action that occurred, not your interpretation and emotional response. Thinking "I embarrassed myself in front of the team" and feeling mortified is only one way to look at the situation.
  6. Affirmation. Begin a daily ritual of lifting yourself up. Say out loud at least one thing you appreciate and enjoy about yourself. Or think of one thing for which you are grateful.
  7. Broaden your thinking. When you find yourself saying "I can't" turn yourself around by asking "How could I accomplish this? What would make this possible?"

No doubt future coaching sessions will touch on negative self-talk. For now
we're on to the next coaching session with Leslee who decides that it's more fun to focus on her strengths than her weaknesses. Stay tuned!

About the Author

Margaret Moore

Margaret Moore is the co-director of the McLean/Harvard Medical School Institute of Coaching.

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