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Breaking the Cycle: Conquering Negative Self-Talk and Stress this Holiday Season

holiday dinner table

It’s just too much!

I can’t do it!

I should do more!

I should have done it better!

I’m never enough!

It’s never enough!

These are common phrases (there are many more) we hear during holidays, a time when the expectations of ourselves and others are especially high. It’s this negative self-talk that is sending us into perpetual confusion, frustration, and disarray. Can you relate? What is the voice you are hearing in your head this holiday season as you take the time to read this little blog?

By the way, I have never met someone who did not have negative self-talk at some point, if not regularly, during the holidays. Be encouraged, there is hope.

What if I were to tell you something radical about negative self-talk?

Negative self-talk has a purpose. Negative self-talk isn’t something we can just turn off and expect to go away. We cannot train our brains to ignore, avoid, or hush the negative voices. Negative self-talk has a purpose, in that it serves as a way for us to grow more authentic with ourselves and begin to understand how we function best in the world and with others around us. Negative self-talk is actually part of the homeostatic mechanism in your mind that is trying to keep you authentic. . . It may be one of the greatest feedback mechanisms in your body to help you embrace your own uniqueness and pause because there is something happening that is not congruent within. Negative self-talk helps us notice when we need to take a look within, around, and up.

If you are noticing negative self-talk, love yourself for exactly who you are, and recognize that this is a season of stress. Recognize that you have an authentic purpose and do not need to compare, compete, or strive for more. Please know that it is fantasy thinking that often drives the negative self-talk . . . fantasies about how the season should look and fantasies about what you should be doing. Appreciate yourself and others exactly the way they are. Once we can observe the negative self-talk and understand where it is coming from, we can be more authentic with ourselves and our loved ones without the pressure.

Ways to honor the negative self-talk this holiday season without letting it take over:

***Canceling negative self-talk with positive self-talk, is not effective. It does not address the issue you are facing. SO, ask yourself:

-Why did it show up?

-When did it show up?

-What is my fantasy thinking?

-Is there a way in which I can use the negative self-talk that is helpful and moves me towards more authenticity and self-understanding?

-What is meaningful to me?

-When do I feel most congruent with who I am?

-Is there something I need to do differently? (Say “No” to something?)

-Understand that your values and priorities are connected. They matter. How are my values and priorities not being met this season?

-How am I expecting myself to show up in a way that is not congruent with my values and priorities? (If I am expecting myself to be someone who I am not or comparing myself to others, I may have negative self-talk) (If I am engaging in things that simply are not meaningful to me, I may have negative self-talk)

-I understand that there are certain things I need to do for the holidays, but is there something I can do that will make me feel better about myself and more congruent with my beliefs/values right now?

Tips for managing the negative self-talk this holiday season:

When facing negative self-talk, get curious about where and why you are having the negativity. Then recognize that you may need an extra dose of the natural “Happiness Chemicals,” Do something that you genuinely enjoy.

Dopamine - Is for reward and motivation. Consider exercise, meditation, prayer, yoga, a new experience, completing a task, self-care - manicure/pedicare, celebrating a little win.

Oxytocin - Is for Love and Connection. Consider volunteering, acts of kindness, sharing a hug, playing with a dog or other animal, socializing with friends, giving someone a compliment, hold hands.

Serotonin - Is for a stable and good mood. Consider taking a hike, walking, sunshine, practicing gratitude, time in nature.

Endorphin - Is for reducing pain and stress. Consider dark chocolate, watching comedy, laughing, exercise

yoga in the mountains

Resources for caring for you:

Check out the book by Dr. John DeMartini - Book - The Values Factor

If you find that surviving the holidays feels like too big of an ask and would like support, please reach out today. We have many more techniques and resources to share!

Stephanie and Lucy
Written by: Stephanie Kugler, MA, LPC

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