Andee Tagle (she/her) is a reporter-producer for NPR’s Life Kit podcast. She recently posted an article discussing some key aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Specifically the role of our automatic thoughts and the language we use to describe ourselves and our experiences. You can read the full article at https://www.npr.org/2022/11/04/1133860237/stop-hurting-your-own-feelings-tips-on-quashing-negative-self-talk and below is a brief summary to consider.
Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend In our episode on how to curb negative self-talk, psychologist Joy Harden Bradford says to be aware of the harmful things we might say to ourselves. So the next time you’re tempted to disparage your looks or criticize your decision-making, ask yourself: would I talk this way to my best friend? If not, practice “using the same kind and gentle language that we use with the people we love” on yourself, says Bradford. “Because we’re also people who we hopefully love, right?” Listen to the episode here.
‘SIFT’ through what people say about you The acronym SIFT (source, impact, frequency and trends), developed by research scientist Mike Caulfield, can help you figure out whether you should listen to feedback from others or just ignore it. Say someone calls you out for poor email communication. Did that criticism come from someone you trust and value? Is it demanding a big change or a minor tweak to your behavior? Is this something you’ve heard from other people? And have you heard this from different communities in your life, or just at work? Consider these points before deciding to act. Listen to the episode here.
Don’t forget that our brains have a tendency to focus on the negative The mind is a tricky thing. It can lead us to fixate, for example, on one bad aspect of a year-end review from a manager instead of their positive feedback. This is called “negativity bias,” says Yale psychology professor Woo-kyoung Ahn, and it illustrates our propensity to weigh negative events a lot more heavily than an equal amount of positive events. This “thinking error,” she says, is dangerous because it can lead us to make the wrong choices. Find out how to counteract this bias here.
Don’t dwell on something that bothers you — talk about it If someone you love is causing you distress, don’t be afraid to communicate with them about it, says psychologist Adia Gooden. It may help clear up any assumptions you may have and offer new perspectives about the incident. For example, instead of jumping to conclusions if your partner is always on their phone at dinnertime, you might say to them: “Because you’re always on your phone, I feel like you don’t think I’m worthy of your attention,” says Gooden. “And they might say, ‘Oh, shoot, I didn’t mean to be on my phone. Or, you know, I’ve been kind of frustrated with you and I didn’t know how to bring it up. So I’ve been looking at my phone instead of making eye contact. Let’s talk.” Listen to the episode here.
Adapt a ‘growth mindset’ Instead of defining yourself by your failures or limitations, consider every loss as part of your learning process. This idea, developed by psychologist Carol Dweck, is called a “growth mindset,” and it can help bolster that internal dialogue when you’ve taken an L and can’t stop kicking yourself about it. Let’s say you lose a round of pool. Those with a fixed mindset, she says, think that talent and intelligence are static: I give up, I’ll never get good at this! Growth-minded people believe that effort can lead to mastery: Hey! I’m getting a lot better at putting some power behind the ball! It’s all about finding the right perspective. Listen to the episode here.