• Your Own Worst Enemy: Silencing Negative Self Talk

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    By Brenda Nicholson

    No, Nay, Never

    The average 1-year-old hears the word “No” 400 times a day, according to research conducted by UCLA. By the time that child can vote, he’s heard the word “No” about 200,000 times. Double that if he has ADHD.

    In many ways, it makes sense. As parents, we praise our kids for singing their ABCs, sharing their toys, and plenty of other bright daily moments. But we also instinctively blurt out “Don’t do that!” “No – stop!” and “I said ‘no'” all day, everyday to keep them healthy and safe (or so we think).

    How Negative Self Talk Takes Root

    Studies suggest that these negative commands and interactions add up — in a bad way. Hearing “no” a few dozen times an hour can, over time, impair a child’s self perception and self esteem. That, in turn, leads to negative self talk— that inner voice that tells us we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not ever going to figure it out.

    Most of us are guilty of negative self talk. We deflect compliments others give us by downplaying them. If we make a mistake, we blame ourselves, citing stupidity or some other imagined flaw.It’s not entirely our fault that we focus on the negative; most of us were taught this from an early age.

    Why Negative Self Talk Is So Bad

    Research on the long term effects of negative self talk and ADHD are limited at best, but a related 2004 study found that professional athletes who were able to set specific goals and utilize positive self talk performed better and were more likely to maintain attention to the task at hand. Those who practiced negative self talk experienced poorer performance and less attention.

    A more recent study done on both deaf and hearing subjects found that negative self talk adversely affects learning, performance, and skill acquisition. Think about what this means to your life. Negative self talk can hold you back, preventing you from doing your best. And by not being able to maintain focus and attention, you risk never being able to reach your true potential.

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