Deconstruct and Replace2 min read

The way you talk to yourself matters. A lot.

Your self-talk is an expression of your underlying identity, and it’s also constantly reinforcing that identity. Is your self-talk serving you? If not, the good news is that your self-talk is just stories, and you can learn to tell yourself a better story.

Here’s how.

Step 1: Identify

As soon as you notice negative self-talk, pause for a moment and interrupt the thought.

To practice noticing your negativity, start writing down thoughts that arise, also noting the context: where you are, the time of day, who is with you, your energy level, and any other relevant factors. This gives you perspective and distance on your self-talk, and it helps you see patterns over time.

Step 2: Question

Now examine the negative thought and questions the underlying assumptions, using the one or more of the following questions.

  • Can I prove that this is true?
  • Is this thought accurate, or could it be an exaggeration?
  • What evidence do I have to support this conclusion?
  • If I had to argue for the opposite, what would I say?
  • What facts might I be overlooking, ignoring, or discounting?
  • In what ways might I be wrong?
  • Have I ever been wrong about something like this before?
  • Have things ever turned out fine before, despite similar anxieties?
  • Would everyone I know interpret this the same way?
  • Is this thought helpful, or is it holding me back?
Step 3: Shift/Replace

Here’s where willpower comes in. Write down at least three alternative thoughts that are more empowering, positive, or true. Focus on each of these thoughts for at least thirty seconds, so they really have a chance to counter the limiting belief.

There are many ways to shift. Use whatever works for you. Here are some options.

  • Shift to a more accurate and positive version of the initial thought: “I never succeed at XYZ”. â “So far I have not yet succeeded at XYZ, but I feel that I’m getting better. I’ll try again.”
  • Introduce a new perspective: “I’m not nervous; I’m excited!”
  • Shift to the flip-side of the negative belief: “I can’t do this”. â “I am resourceful. I can do whatever I set my mind to.”
  • Remind yourself of core strengths: “I am resilient and creative! I’ll be able to cope with whatever happens.”
  • Try to find the positive: “Is there anything here I can be grateful for?” or “How is this a blessing in disguise?”
  • Bring to mind your main affirmation, reconnecting with your aspirational identity. Repeat the affirmation with concentration, willpower, faith, feeling.

Replace focusing on your shortcomings with focusing on your strengths. Replace the negative with the positive, the disempowering with the empowering, the old identity with the new identity—repeatedly and resolutely.

For a deeper dive into these concepts, see Chapter 9 of Wise Confidence or try the Deconstruct and Replace guided meditation in the app.


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