201. Overcoming negative self-talk and to moving towards positive self-talk

Negative self-talk can our work-life balance or ability to manage parenting challenges. In this episode, Shawna Scafe, Counsellor and Coach, discusses how to identify common cognitive distortions and challenge them to help rewire your self-talk to be more empowering and motivating. 



This episode is a follow-up to the introduction on Cognitive Distortion (Episode 199). Listeners sent in examples of situations in their day where they struggle with positive self-talk. In each example, I point out what cognitive distortion might be at play and offer some questions to open up awareness of other ways to talk to yourself. 

Topics and related links covered in this episode


Joining the NEW Patreon, the Life on Purpose Community!

  • The scenarios covered in the follow-up Patreon Episode:
    • When you just can’t get to that workout/assignment/project
    • Walking into a room with confidence when insecurities seek to make you feel less than or unwelcome in a group setting.
    • When I’m tired or sick – I find it difficult to not feel lazy when I want to rest. And though I know I should rest – it’s hard!
    • When I’m procrastinating but have a work deadline looming
    • Making it through long, cold winter days without much social interaction. It’s so cold that I literally go to work and come home. I’m a teacher and don’t have a ton of adult interaction during my days and I feel like the winter blues are getting the best of me.


Hey friends is Shawna your nerdy girlfriend and counselor from simple on purpose.ca Welcome to the Simple on Purpose Podcast.

Guys. How is it March? How is where did February go? Okay, February felt like a blur of hockey. I’ve been setting up a new office to do some local sessions and getting that painted and all set up and I just look up and suddenly it’s March. Oh yeah, by the way, I had a kid turn 13 last month too. Isn’t that crazy? What’s also crazy is that means I’ve been sharing with you guys for almost 13 years because the very first thing I ever posted way back on a blog spot called duck tail blog was the story of my C section. And I had a lot of big feelings about it. A lot of disappointment and frustration and anger and and nurse had recommended that I write about it. That was the first blog post that really started this whole online community online relationship that we were able to develop and how it’s grown, how we’ve changed how we’ve grown together. And now we’re talking about things like cognitive distortions and motherhood and mindsets and just really keep digging in deeper and peeling off the layers and going deeper together, which I just I cherished so much, that you guys are on this journey with me and we can do it together. Alright, so this episode is a follow up to the one I did two episodes ago on cognitive distortions. The topic was brought up because I had a request to talk about positive self talk during the day, which made me think when we’re paying attention to our thoughts, we really have to notice the way that we filter our thoughts and the cognitive distortions we might have. So I’ve covered some of the main ones in that episode, like all or nothing thinking disqualifying the positive emotional reasoning, overgeneralization there were also some download wallpapers to get with that, as well. I’ll make sure to link that in the show notes. And this episode will be the follow up, I’m going to answer the scenarios the specific scenarios you submitted to me in the Facebook group. On the subject of times in your day that you feel you need some positive self talk, I’m going to give you a heads up right here that I am going to be launching a Patreon guys, I’ve thought about this for many years, actually, ever since we closed down the life on purpose Academy and 2021. I knew I wanted to bring a community back, and it’s going to be on Patreon. So I’m going to cover a handful of the sooner scenarios here and have an additional episode in the patreon to really keep digging into this. Alright, self talk, positive self talk, maybe you struggle with positive self talk, maybe you notice it in a lot of areas of your life. Maybe in certain areas where you feel a bit more shaky, or unsure. Maybe you notice you feel defeated about things. And often we struggle with negative self talk, when we’re feeling defeated when something’s not going quite right. It’s interesting, that negative self talk we use negative emotions to motivate ourselves. Specifically shame, criticism, self bullying. And the hard part is these negative emotions, they might be effective, but they’re not empowering, it is negative reinforcement. Avoid that negative feeling versus positive to seek out the positive a totally different approach, we can take totally different emotions that are driving us got an episode number 177. On that if you want to dig into, towards motivation and away motivation a little bit more. If you do struggle with negative self talk, I want you to know three things. The first one is isn’t your fault. And what I mean by that is you likely didn’t choose negative self talk on purpose with detention intention. Sorry, you didn’t decide. I would like to think poorly of myself, I would like to feel negative emotions here. As with most of our inner narratives, this was formed before you consciously knew it, our thoughts, our default thoughts, how we react, the main themes of our thoughts, they are handed down to us in a way we learn and then we adopt them. The same way we learn language, how we learn to call water, we learn how to think about ourselves, our abilities, our opportunities, who we are in the world who other people are in the world, we learn how to think we are programmed with cause effect event, meaning belief result, from our upbringing, from our culture, from our experiences. It’s like just the blueprint that we formed from observing and learning and that cause and effect that has taught us and then the more we think in a certain way, the more we think that way. Neurons that fire together wire together. And I like to think Have our thoughts as a path. When you think a thought you’re like, treading little trail through the woods, and the more you think it, the more that path gets worn down and hardened. And next thing, it’s like an eight lane freeway, and it’s your default thought you don’t even notice it happens, it happens so fast, without intention without conscious awareness even. And our brain does that to be efficient to save energy. That’s why we have habits. That’s why we have automatic thoughts to save energy. So you didn’t do it with intention on purpose likely. And the second thing I want you to know is that if you want to think positive, if you want to shift that, you have to do it on purpose. This is because our brain not only has this kind of blueprint that we’re thinking with, but it additionally has a negativity bias. I call it danger brain, our brain is looking for what could go wrong. It’s important, we need this actually, it’s a very important way that we have been kept safe over the generations. Because if we are aware of what’s negative, what’s the danger around us, that means we’re aware of the risks to our survival. So spot, the danger manage it survive. It’s very useful, right? Our brain is looking for problems, it’s looking for danger. And managing that. I often joke with my clients that we think our brain is just going to naturally make our lives better. But we have to be intentional with how we use that. It’s like having this great computer, it can do all these things. But whatever program it’s running is this result we’re going to get, and our brain really just have this program of running that is a negativity bias. It has a lot of assumptions and stories that we adopted from early on that have never been challenged. The program has never been revised to what we want it to be doing right now. I hope I’m not going all over the place and being too meta. If we seek to think more positively, we want to use positive emotion emotions to empower us to motivate us, then we need to program that in we need to revise our programming, and we need to practice it, which is the third thing. Our brains are neuro plastic, which means we can change our own minds. But it takes time and it takes effort which your brain won’t be excited to do. We can forge a new path for our thoughts, we can blaze a new path and we can keep treading down that path and hardening it and strengthening it. It will take practice but it is doable. What I would like to do for this episode is run through the scenarios that were shared with me. I want to talk about the cognitive distortions we likely have involved in this. And as we are working on changing our minds about what we think about ourselves in our lives, I don’t want to tell you what to think. You know what I might tell you, in some cases, the thoughts that I go to, but remember, I can tell you what I think about these situations, but that might not work for you. It is important to do the work of dismantling your current thoughts and finding a new thought that works well for you. Something that feels believable and helpful. The thoughts we want to shift into have to align with our values and the stage of change that we are in. And this is CBT work cognitive behavioral therapy work, which is shifting our thoughts in order to shift how we feel and act. And I want you to keep in mind that with CBT work, feelings still matter, we still need to address our feelings. We aren’t here to just change our thoughts with positive affirmations and use that as an emotional bypass. Our feelings still matter, we need to validate these emotions, they are there for good reasons. And I’ll make sure to put an episode on negative emotions in the show notes as well.

As they go through the scenarios, I want to offer you some questions that you can use to challenge your current thoughts. And consider how you want to achieve a more motivating emotion and motivating thought pattern in this case. And as always, this podcast is not a substitute for personal therapy, where you feel stuck, or overwhelmed, or you just want to personally grow, bring these topics to your safe and trusted person. The first scenario that we’ll cover is here it is the inability to feel good enough at work or at home, the inability to properly balance either to the point of feeling like you could possibly be proficient in both. I get asked very often about balancing home and work and I’m going to do an episode on that in the future. But there are two components to pay attention to one is what you’re doing and to how you feel about what you’re doing. And we need to address both. When it comes to what you are doing. It helps to really audit and observe yourself. How are you spending your time? Where can you declutter your time? Where do you need to be more proactive? What needs planning in order to help you be more successful? This goes with number two because if you let’s say you never plan a meal and you get home from work, and you’re just rushing around the house and you’re not sure what to eat and like, we’re already feeling stressed out and hungry, and so is everyone else. That is probably a time that you are going to feel really defeated. And really like you can’t balance things. So what plans can you put in place in order to set you up for success in order to help you feel like you are managing things. The other part to pay attention to is how you’re feeling. In this example, we probably see the cognitive distortion of overgeneralization, which can be really normal. If you feel bad in one area, it’s normal to sometimes make a blanket statement on how you’re showing up poorly over all. The other cognitive distortion that we see here are some sneaky shoulds, the shoulds we all have these shoulds. These this checklist, and it might not be we’re fully aware of it is just under the surface, a checklist on how this all has to look what we should be doing or not doing. What we should be feeling even more how we think we should be feeling some questions to ask yourself here to challenge that overgeneralization are, what have I done? Well, what are three things I did? Well, today start looking for evidence challenge that confirmation bias your brain has, which is that strategy our brain uses to seek evidence to support its beliefs, our brain just wants to be right. And so if you have a belief, a narrative that you aren’t finding balance, you aren’t good. Your brain has that bias to filter out evidence to the contrary. That’s the confirmation bias. So you probably do have a lot of evidence that you are not proficient that you are not doing well that you are not balancing things. And part of us needs to take that counter position with ourselves and search for evidence that something else could be true. What did I do well to day and there is no small thing here small things matter. The next is to ask what are my shoulds? Get to know them? What do you expect of yourself? What should you be doing? How should you be feeling? Do you like your shirts Do you want to keep them and as a side note, something to always pay attention to is your stress level here. What is your window of tolerance, like right now that window of tolerance where we feel like we have capacity to deal with our day. If we are out of our window of tolerance, we’re either going up into hyper arousal or down into hyper arousal. And when we have a reduced window of tolerance, we feel less capacity, we feel lowered capacity, it’s hard to have a sense of resilience and capability. And we quickly and easily fall out of the window of tolerance. I’ll make sure to put some episodes in the show notes on that as well. The next example we have here is when you have many littles don’t get enough sleep often and are sleepy and grumpy during the day and can’t seem to shake it off. Right off the bat, I want to send you to Episode 74 and 73 those talk about the emotional struggles of being a mom and empowering mindsets that you can use in early mom life. In this question, I’m assuming that I’m talking to the parent who is the one that is sleepy and tired? Because I know it’s like to have more than one small kid I’m sure I was so sure they had secret meetings and would be like who’s taking the 1am shift who’s taking the 3am shift. And they would plan out which shift they would wake up to make sure their parents were not sleeping, those Sure. So let’s just stop and take a minute and validate how hard it is to not be sleeping. If you are not sleeping through the night consistently. That is hard. It reduces your window of tolerance. It changes how you feel it changes the amount of capacity you feel you have it changes your emotions. So I think just stop and give yourself some appreciation that you are doing a hard thing. And sure, let’s hope it’s a season. But sleep is very underrated. So I would go back and listen to those past episodes. I even talk specifically about the mindset of being tired. And I would also point you to the heart and awesome episode. If you feel like you’re not able to shake off that grumpy part of you. When you feel when you are in a state of feeling like you just can’t shake it off, you might have a couple of cognitive distortions going on. One could be emotional reasoning. I’m grumpy. So there must be all of these external things making me grumpy or I am just identifying like I’m a grumpy person. I’m feeling stressed. So I must be a bad mom. I must be unable to handle this. And my encouragement to you here is to get some distance from your emotions. Instead of just in that perpetual state of grumpy which just grows and grows just like even holding your hands out and saying I’m feeling grumpy because I’m tired. Like I I am experiencing grumpiness because I am tired and separate that emotion from you. And also acknowledge that your emotion Since are existing and create an experience in your body that is separate from the external things happening. The other cognitive distortion that might be going on here is all or nothing thinking, if you feel like you really can’t shake off this feeling, it’s that either or situation that all or nothing, either I’m grumpy or unhappy, I’m tired or I’m not tired, the day is good, or it’s bad. And I think that’s where the heart and awesome episode might really be helpful. A question when we have all or nothing thinking is to notice what’s in between what’s in between the either or the black or the white, the, it’s either good, or it’s bad. And as well, sometimes it can help to let both of those things exist in saying something like, even if I have hard parts of my day, there’s still some awesome parts I can have. Even if I am tired, there are still ways I can enjoy my day. So allowing that goodness back in. So a couple of questions to think about here. How can I separate out these emotions and let them exist without making it mean a whole lot of other things about me and my life. And challenge that all or nothing thinking the day can still have good parts in it.

I’m going to cover one more scenario. And then I’d encourage you to go over to the Patreon if you want to keep digging into more. This scenario is when you work so hard to get everything done just to start over again. And when you’re feeling annoyed at your family. And first of all, how relatable I know I feel like this. I feel defeated at the relentlessness of keeping a home and managing a family. A major cognitive distortion we often have here are the should statements, what are your shoulds for your standards in your home. And I’m not saying You’re unreasonable. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have standards. I’m just saying notice. Notice what you expect out of yourself and your home. What are your shoulds for the people in your home again, this can meet resistance. I am not saying that you should never expect your family to help out or that you should just expect your family to be doing what they’re doing. I’m not telling you to let go of this, I’m just saying notice. And I say notice it. Because I’m guessing your list of shoulds for how things should look and how people should act and how you should feel and how you should act. They’re probably different than your reality. And when our shoulds are different than our reality that becomes a source of suffering. Byron Katie is a really great resource on this topic. Some questions to ask yourself here. What are my shoulds? My shoulds for the house my shirts for how it should be maintained my shirts for what others should do my shirts for what I should be doing? And do I like them, you might decide some of your shoulds can be put aside for the season. Also ask yourself here very important. How do I show up when things don’t go how they should? I think that’s where we see the annoyance coming in. How do I want to handle the difference between my reality and my mental list of shoulds. Like I said, this is such a relatable example. I feel it too. It is frustrating to feel this way. And we can really get stuck in that spiral of defeat. It’s hard to come out of there. I know for me personally, this thought shows up most for me when I’m already overwhelmed. I feel an act and think differently. When I have had a maybe a crazy workday or I feel overwhelmed. There’s a lot of things on my plate. And I come into the kitchen and it’s just like a hot mess. And I just feel overwhelmed. And I get really defeated. Sometimes a little salty about how the house is kept. But if I feel like I am on top of things, I feel relaxed and I come into the kitchen, I just start cleaning it because I’m like, oh, like, now I can make the kitchen how I want it to look like I empower myself with that. So I know really how hard it is. And pay attention to how you’re already feeling and addressing that window of tolerance you’re in. And without specifically knowing your situation and how your home is run and what you want more of or less of. I just also point you to some episodes on involving kids with chores on Lincoln episode on that. An interesting book I had read that I haven’t really shared much on but I found it really interesting was hunter gatherer parent and they talked about different approaches that different cultures have to get kids involved with cleaning and helping out around the house. But I just validate you it is a frustrating thing. And sometimes the thought that helps me is we live here, we live here and acknowledging that it is by fact by nature, it is going to be a relentless is situated word, but it is going to be a constant cycle. There’s always going to be dishes, there’s always going to be laundry there’s always going to be shoes at the front door. And like weird stuff in the bathroom that doesn’t belong there that’s always going to exist as long as other people are living here. And that just helps me get some distance like just accepting, like, that’s reality. And now what do I want to do about it and not to say I still don’t get frustrated and defeated and need to do the work of getting everybody on board helping out a bit more. All right, friends, I hope that this has been a helpful episode for you, I hope that you are able to step back and think about what you’re thinking. Because how we’re thinking has a really big impact on how we’re feeling and how we act, how we show up. And my encouragement to you. My mission in all that I do is to help you show up how you want to show up in line with your values with who you want to be. And with the life that you want to build. I aim to help you live life on purpose by paying attention to these things. As I mentioned, there will be a Patreon community opening up called the life on purpose community. I’m gonna link in the show notes. You can go check it out if that’s something that you’re interested in. Have a great week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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