Negative Self-Talk and MessyArguments: How to Stop the Cycle

Submitted by: Kristin Louis

Just like self-doubt, fear, and insecurity can sabotage our careers, they have a negative impact on our relationships too. That’s because inner doubt and negative self-talk don’t just influence how we see ourselves. They affect how we interact with the people around us as well.

When negativity pervades every thought, it’s only a matter of time before it poisons
relationships. Often, this manifests in criticism, blame, and unhealthy disagreements that go around in circles without ever getting resolved.

Learning to disagree constructively is an important skill in any relationship. But before you can align your words with your intent, you need to take control of the dialogue in your mind.

Countering Negative Self-Talk

We’re all our own worst critics. However, when negative self-talk takes control, it distorts the way we see the world — and the people in it. Negative self-talk not only limits your own empowerment, it can also cause you to be excessively negative towards others.

Stopping negative self-talk starts with acknowledging it. Notice harmful thoughts as they happen. Instead of following these thoughts down the spiral of self-doubt, challenge them. Do your thoughts reflect reality, or is insecurity fueling exaggeration and catastrophizing? By recognizing the root of negative self-talk, you can shift your perspective back to neutral.

Some people find it helpful to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. This can be especially helpful in relationships. If you tend toward negative assumptions about your partner’s thoughts, beliefs, and intentions, replace negative assumptions with positive ones rooted in the things you admire about your partner to stop resentment in its tracks.

Quelling negativity also requires managing stress. Stress and negativity create a vicious cycle that’s impossible to break without addressing both components. Exercise is one of the best ways to both relieve short-term anxiety and build long-term resilience against stress. You don’t have to be a serious athlete to reap the stress relief benefits of exercise. As little as 15-20 minutes a day can make an impact and is easy to accomplish with the help of fitness apps you can use at home. Beginners should try the LadyBoss app for how-to videos and workouts customized to your fitness level.

Other stress management strategies include:
● Journaling.
● Meditation.
● Yoga.
● Time management.
● Healthy sleep.

Healthy Conflict Resolution: 5 Key Strategies

Taking control of negative self-talk ensures you approach relationship disagreements objectively and constructively, rather than motivated by distorted assumptions and limiting beliefs. This avoids harmful argument tactics and, instead, empowers couples to resolve disagreements using healthy strategies like these:

Use a soft start
Instead of initiating an argument with criticism, sarcasm, or blame, use “I” statements and focus on the facts.

Complain, don’t criticize
Focusing on what happened and how it made you feel keeps complaints from turning into criticism. While complaints identify unmet needs, criticism targets the other person’s worth.

Avoid defensiveness
When you’re at the receiving end of a complaint, resist the urge to jump to your own defense.
Defensiveness invalidates the other person’s feelings and, over time, erodes trust. Instead, acknowledge the complaint by repeating their words, accepting responsibility, and seeking a mutual resolution.

Know when to step away
When you feel triggered and sense yourself growing overwhelmed, pause for 30 minutes before resuming. Giving yourself time to self-soothe prevents emotional flooding. Most couples find it helpful to set the expectation for time-outs before conflict arises so it doesn’t feel like stonewalling.

Remember you’re a team
While these strategies help us work through disagreements constructively, it’s important to remember that 69% of relationship conflicts aren’t solvable. In order to move forward in sync, couples must learn how to affirm each other so they both feel seen even if they disagree.

While these conflict resolution strategies are designed for couples, they can be helpful for anytype of relationship. Whether you’re trying to improve your marriage or be a better team player at the office, these strategies will help you align the words you speak with the goals you seek.

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