Here’s a little perspective for you to start your 2022 goals!
I hope you had a good Christmas (if you celebrate it).
So, here we are, about to start a new year. Thinking about what 2022 will bring you…
Do you ever use negative self-talk to do better?
I mean if you spoke to your friends the way you spoke to yourself….
Would you have any?
“I’m so fat, I have to miss my lunch tomorrow!” or “Great, I ate so many desserts again, guess my diet’s all ruined now.” This negative self-talk affects a lot of us and you are certainly not alone. However, developing this as a habit can often have a lot of detrimental consequences.
Many people get stuck in bad habits of talking to themselves in horrifically negative ways, simply because they think that’s what’s necessary to produce change.
To break out of this it helps to understand “operant conditioning”.
(reinforcement” changes behaviour).
This was first proposed by famous psychologist and behaviorist B.F. Skinner. It is a type of learning process in which a behavior is reinforced or punished.
In it, he says that we have positive and negative reinforcements. Positive reinforcement is when we reward a behaviour because we want it to happen more or immediately afterward. An example would be rewarding a child for getting a high grade at school or when your parents praise you for a job well done. We reward a behaviour so that we associate good feelings with it and we keep doing it more.
On the other hand, negative reinforcement is when we apply an unwanted stimulus that only gets removed when the behaviour we want starts. An example would be blaming and talking down to yourself every time you fail to stick to your diet or when you hurl insults at yourself every time you look in the mirror. Or shouting at your child until they shut up.
Despite its name, negative reinforcement isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do. We can use it to prevent repeating the same mistakes in the future and prevent others from doing the same. However, with almost everything else, we must also do it in moderation along with positive reinforcement. We wouldn’t want to keep on punishing ourselves nor rewarding ourselves for every little thing, right?
When it comes to ourselves, we must also know what punishment is. You see, punishing yourself for the sake of “getting revenge” on yourself for failing does not create change.
This is far different than what B.F. Skinner proposed punishment. Beating yourself up does not count as one of the punishments you can do to incite change within because you’ll only end up making the same mistake again, but with more and more guilt and shame piling up until you don’t even feel like doing anything positive anymore.
Hence, if you’ve been shaming and guilt-tripping yourself as a “punishment” all this time, now you know that you must stop.
Punishment – as defined in operant conditioning – does NOT create change. Simply look at the penal system for evidence. Punishment is primarily about getting revenge and feeling like “justice has been served”.
Understand, there’s nothing wrong with you. This was simply a blind spot. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t be held accountable for not knowing what you don’t know!
You didn’t know that berating yourself doesn’t produce change. But now that you do know, you have permission to talk to yourself in a whole new way!
It’s never too late to be kinder to yourself. You can start now and actually use operant conditioning in the right way to your advantage. Doing this will finally get you the changes you desire!
Wishing You A Happy New Year!
I have a reputation as a compassionate and innovative therapist who produces rapid and lasting changes with my clients. Are you ready to become my next success story?
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[…] Punishment is notoriously unreliable as a means of behavioural change. (Read the blog here: https://louisett.com/2021/12/30/do-you-ever-use-negative-self-talk-to-do-better/ […]