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  • Writer's pictureJacob Meyer

Violence Within: Negative Self-talk and What Fuels It

Our inner worlds are where we spend our time when not engaged in a social or familial manner - in other words, the time spent in our minds. Through the therapeutic process I’m immersed in the inner world of others, with most of our time being devoted to processing emotional and presenting issues. Over time I have learned that behind the formal mask we all wear to live lies inner worlds that are fraught with negative self-talk, anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt. Much of the therapeutic process acknowledges the dysfunction of the inner world along with working towards a better relationship with it. Below is a TED Talk that provides a look at our negative self-talk, along with people being skewed towards negative perception and the struggle to leave it.

We can see that negative self-talk and being stuck in a negative framework regularly happens in response to weekly events. Something bad happened at work, a negative interaction with a spouse or child, or plans that fall through for the weekend. Once we get in a negative space it is difficult to get out. It is easy to slip into negative thoughts and feelings, and this can grow into dysfunction. It takes awareness and a diligent process to create an inner world that is more peaceful and pleasant to live in.

Taking this a step deeper, I often work with patients who struggle with negative self-talk and self-image to the point in which they use it as fuel towards reaching their goals. However these behaviors were shaped, these people usually struggle with feeling less than and unworthy of love and support from themselves, peers, and spouses.

Feeling unworthy and lesser than ties in directly to feeling the shame of being unacceptable to loved ones. Negative self-talk and imaging thrives in this environment. Shame is a powerful fuel with a high cost. It is a motivator to keep us aligned with our values and expectations, even if the cost is self-hatred and an inner world that is almost unbearable to live in.

Being compelled by shame and feelings of unworthiness set us up for negative potentials. The decisions we make and achievements we win with shame’s pressure can leave us feeling hollow and disengaged. This is because we are not fully engaged with our decisions and achievements. Shame has taken the seat, made the decision, and won the prize.

How much do you struggle with negative self-talk? How does shame live and breathe in your inner world? It is difficult to see these manners due to them being so normalized and pervasive to us. Many of us experience shame so deeply that we do not even know it's there. It is impossible to know what hasn’t been modeled for you. If you feel that you struggle with negative self-talk or shame please reach out to explore these matters further.

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