Romal Tune, Author of Love Is an Inside Job

What’s the value in the negative thoughts I’m having about myself right now? That’s the question I have conditioned myself to ask whenever “the obnoxious roommate living in my head,” (as Arianna Huffington calls it) rises.

Even the most positive, highly functioning people in the world have to overcome negative self-talk. The difference between those who fall victim to it and those who rise above it has an intentional strategy to acknowledge it when it happens and to confront it right away with a countervailing positive voice.

I’ve had my battles with negative self-talk that have left me discouraged, causing me to miss opportunities or leaving paralyzed and unwilling to take action on something that deep down I wanted to do, but negative self-talk made me afraid even to try.

I’ve found a way to confront my negative self-talk that works, and maybe it will work for you. 

These are the questions that I ask myself and take action on to overcome negative self-talk:

  1. What’s the value in thinking I can’t?
  2. What’s the value in thinking things will go wrong?
  3. Why am I saying things to myself and about myself that I would be offended by if someone else said them to me?
  4. What would I start doing if I believed I could? Start doing those things.

When you don’t have a plan to stop negative self-talk it grows, and you start creating worlds in your head that don’t even exist. These negative worlds of what could go wrong start feeling real to you. You can even have attached feelings to them and become sad, discouraged, emotionally drained, or angry. But it’s only in your head. It hasn’t happened in your life. But in your mind, you have accepted it as real, and as a result, you move from feeling it to acting on it.

If you can have an emotional response and take action on the life-limiting world that you have created in your head because of negative self-talk; why not take control of your thoughts and create a world in your head that looks like the life you want? After all, both worlds only exist in your head so choose to create one that serves you well. And just as you allow yourself to attach feelings and actions to negative thoughts, let yourself feel the excitement, joy, happiness, and fulfillment of positive thinking; and then take action to make it your reality.

I once heard Will Smith say that when it comes to building a wall, the size of the project intimidates people and they become overwhelmed by the wall. But the key to building a wall is not about the size of the wall and more about focusing on laying first brick as perfectly as you can. You don’t focus on the size of the wall and allowing negative self-talk to make you think that it’s an impossible task. You concentrate on laying each brick, one-by-one as perfectly as you can. That’s how you build a wall. 

After all, what’s the value in thinking you can’t?