Our minds do not like to be idle or shut down. If you have tried to relax, meditate or just push the off-button to go to sleep, you have experienced the frustration in this. In fact, worrying per say is an activity that keeps it occupied, adding more angst to the whole process. To be sure, all brain activity does not produce what we don’t want to acknowledge: It also leads to solving problems, creativity, introspection and greater insight into ourselves, all needed for healthy lives. The self-talk I want to focus on is the negative kind that is not revelatory but creates self-doubt and adds to a negative self-concept.

Take this one: “I am too needy.” How did you arrive at this? From observing your actions and thoughts? If so, how do you draw the line between a regular person’s need to connect with others, as we all do, or is this something you have been told, over and over, by a partner, a friend, or parent? This is not an easy question to sort through because it requires thinking of past experiences. We all learn lessons from what has happened in our lives and as such, they become part of our thought portfolio, influencing behavior on autopilot.

Here is another one: “I don’t deserve this (insert any good thing).” That judging voice in my mind is making a determination that I am not worthy of a good grade (which I busted my behind for), or a degree (that cost me mucho bucks, blood, sweat, and tears), or some nice thing I am paying for. Who is that judge? Can you tell?

On the other side, that same thought can go in the direction of: “I don’t deserve this illness, breakup, failure, or mishap.” You are now on the way to victimhood. True, we are at times at the receiving end of a situation we did not choose. And yes, that does make us a victim, but only temporarily. It means we have to engage in self-care both for ourselves and for those who love us, to deal with the situation and to bring us to a feeling of whatever degree of control we can employ to do so.

Life does not afford us the luxury of smooth sailing all the time. There are broken romances, failed ventures, loss of loved ones, and a myriad of other hardships. But we also have those moments of feeling on top of the world because of successes, loving relationships, or reaching goals. Remember when you first rode a bike? Your first solo drive? When you start the negative self-talk, picture a stop sign. Then take the right turn and remind your brain of those instances. On that road, with self-talk as your friend, proceed on to realistically dealing with the issue you are confronting. 

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that is your own self.” – Aldous Huxley

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Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577