How to change the Internal Dialogue and stop negative thoughts?
May 25, 2023
Sometimes our inner voice is too loud. Other times, it becomes exhaustingly insistent. And we all know that it is not easy to silence or change it, since our mind is immersed in a constant activity, elaborating thoughts and judgments about our existence and what surrounds.
Very often, this internal dialogue is focused on making judgments about ourselves. Phrases like "I'm a disaster" or "I'm the worst" will not sound too strange to us, since, in general, we have a dialogue quite negative internal, which translates into very unpleasant sensations that can make us uncomfortable and/or generate a certain anxiety.
But like everything that has to do with the mind, this can be modified, and we can realize that many of the things we are telling ourselves have no real basis. In this article we are going to see how to change our internal dialogue.
Internal dialogue: what is it?
The way our inner voice judges our actions is closely linked to our learning. That is to say, if when making a mistake in an exam we say to ourselves "I am a disaster", we are applying some bases learned previously, during our childhood.
To understand all this, it is necessary to clarify that our view of the world is never real, but rather it is filtered by our own interpretation. And where did we get that interpretation from? We have already commented: of all the information that our mind has been assimilating during our growth, be it from the family and school environment, from our culture, from our experiences emotional etc
From this learning, what in psychology is called cognitive schemas, constructed ideas that have been elaborated from our own experience and that, ultimately, will shape our view of the world. This is how all our internal dialogue is built, which, as we will see below, contains certain distortions.
Our internal dialogue has cognitive distortions
Indeed; we could say, plain and simple, that our internal dialogue sometimes deceives us. It is not an intentional lie, but one built on erroneous bases of interpretation. For example, if one day I call a friend and he answers very dryly (simply because he has argued with his partner and is in a bad mood), we can tell ourselves that this friend is upset with us and start to think about it. cause. That is a cognitive distortion, since we do not contemplate other possibilities.
Cognitive distortions are very varied, but here we summarize the most frequent:
- Black and white thinking. It is a vision of reality that does not admit gray. Either things are right or they are wrong, there is no other possibility.
- "Read" the mind of the other. It happens when we believe at face value that a person is thinking something, when in reality we do not have the remotest proof of it beyond our subjectivity.
- Catastrophism. Thinking that the worst things will always and inevitably happen.
- Tag people. Often we consider a person only through the label we have attached to him. For example, if a person is "boring" because at work they are always serious, we cannot imagine that, in their free time, they go to karaoke with their friends to have fun.
- Personalize the behavior of others. As if everything “revolves around us”, we consider that whatever the other person does or says has to do with us. For example, if we walk past some office colleagues and at that moment they laugh, based on this distortion we will think that they are laughing at us, and in our minds there will be no possibility that they are remembering something funny that has happened to them. happened.
- Selective abstraction. We omit the positive elements of some circumstances and only focus on what is negative.
Is it possible to stop negative self-talk?
The good news is that yes, like everything related to the mind, the internal dialogue can be "reprogrammed". As it is based on cognitive schemes learned during our learning process, if we reconfigure these schemes we will be changing our way of seeing life.
The key is that the way in which we tend to pass from one thought to another, from one idea to another, is also a part of the memory system that configures our identity, the way in which we perceive ourselves and our lives; That is why, if we weaken certain associations between the elements that shape our way of "activating" concepts and memories that make us think too biased towards pessimism, we will be fighting that negative internal dialogue that limits. Let's see some tips to achieve it.
Strategies to change the internal dialogue
Some of the strategies that can help us to restructure our internal dialogue are the following:
1. Be aware of our actions
If we look, after a negative internal dialogue there will always be dysfunctional behavior. For example, if we have made a mistake in our lines in a theater course, it is likely that we will not return for fear of making a fool of ourselves. This action would therefore be preceded by a phrase of the type "I am useless", which has a high load of cognitive distortion. At the same time that we become aware of the consequences of the phrases we say to ourselves, we have to pay attention to the emotions that they arouse in us. How we feel? embarrassed? rabid? sad?
2. question our thoughts
Once we have become aware of how we react to that thought, we will be able to analyze if it has a real foundation. "I'm useless". That's right? Is there nothing in life that we don't do well? We have forgotten the lines of the work, but the other day we painted such a beautiful picture that people congratulated us...
The cognitive behavioral psychotherapy is supported in this process of cognitive restructuring, through which the irrational ideas learned are reformed so that we can respond in a more functional way to reality.
There are other strategies, such as the one based on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) that opt rather for allowing the appearance of these cognitive distortions, despite the fact that they entail a certain degree of discomfort (which can be variable), and continue advancing with our values. This is achieved through a series of tools that configure psychological flexibility; For example, him mindfulness It helps us focus attention on the present moment and experience it without prejudging it.
Psychological therapy is the most effective solution to change the internal dialogue. Personalized professional attention makes it possible to adapt to the needs and particularities of each individual.