As humans, we’re sometimes very hard on ourselves – and this is especially true when narcissistic abuse is or has been an issue in your life. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our beliefs can sometimes be very damaging to our self-esteem. Unfortunately, these negative talking points in our head sometimes keep us stuck in a rut.
A great psychologist, Albert Ellis, had many tokens of wisdom to pass around. One of his ideas centralized around these negative thoughts, which he often referred to as irrational beliefs.
Discover how you can stop this vicious circle and turn your self-talk into words that support and encourage you, instead.
Pay Attention to Triggers
The first step to stopping negative self-talk is figuring out what is triggering these negative beliefs in the first place.
Albert Ellis called these so-called triggers “activating events.” These can be everyday occurrences that happen to us or around us. Anything from having your boss or supervisor yell at you and take away your project to experiencing a run-in collision with a deer on a country road can be an activating event.
Are you in conflict with another? Did something not go your way?
Further, triggers can also be incredibly personal to you and unique to your life. These are sometimes referred to as “red flags.” Red flags are issues that pertain to you alone, such as your weight, family and close relationships, integrity, and anything else that you deem sacred.
When these issues get raised, they immediately set off an alarm within you.
Identify Irrational Beliefs
These irrational beliefs are the real culprits behind why we get upset or angry at the triggers we’ve just experienced, according to Albert Ellis. It’s not the trigger itself, but the beliefs that cause the negative self-talk.
Ellis claimed that these irrational beliefs are responsible for our emotional states, also known as the consequences of our beliefs. In this way, by identifying and then changing these beliefs, we can experience fewer emotional consequences.
For example, let’s look at this process:
- You just learned that you got turned down for a promotion at work.
- Getting turned down for the promotion is the activating event or trigger.
- The underlying thoughts or irrational beliefs you might be having include, “I’m never going to advance my career,” “My boss hates me,” or even “My boss is never fair to me.”
- These beliefs or thoughts can lead to emotional consequences of sadness and depression.
Dispute Irrational Beliefs
The idea behind identifying these negative, irrational beliefs is so you can do something to change them.
You can change them by challenging these beliefs. This is a process of examining the truth and reality and seeing that it is different from your belief.
In the prior example of getting turned down for a promotion, a series of questions can be asked to help you sort through reality from these irrational beliefs. You want to challenge yourself by asking questions that are almost the opposite of your identified beliefs.
Some of these challenge questions may be:
- What is the truth in this situation?
- Do I have evidence to support that my current beliefs are true?
- In the example above: Are there times when my boss has been fair?
- Is it true that I’ll never advance in my career, or is this just a minor setback?
These questions can help you identify the truth from what you may erroneously believe or negatively think about a situation.
If you can identify the truth, this can lead you to think differently and avoid suffering the emotional consequences of the trigger in the first place.
Follow this process whenever you notice thoughts that are unkind to you. Change your beliefs and you’ll find your self-talk becoming words of encouragement, instead.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.