The Science of Self-Talk: Rumination

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It’s important to note here that negative emotion (or negative affect) is not necessarily your enemy. It’s how you think about negative emotions that makes them negative.

In other words, how you represent negative emotions to yourself in your own self-talk is the key ingredient that turns them into real negativity. How so?

Researchers studying depression have figured out that people with clinical depression have a kind of compulsive destructive self-talk.

Psychologists call it rumination, and its characteristic is repetitively going over symptoms of distress, like a scab you keep obsessively picking at.

Its other characteristic is passivity. You don’t focus on solutions but problems.

So you have a negative emotion, such as sadness, but, on top of that sadness, you’re telling yourself this toxic story:

It’s all useless, I can’t do anything right. I’ve been stuck in this same position forever and I’ll never get out of it.

Dysfunctional self-talk tells a story. It’s the wrong kind of story, a story in which you’re passive and helpless.

In constructive self-talk, on the other hand, you see yourself as someone who can achieve your goals. That doesn’t just lift your mood.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you see yourself as capable, then you have the right perspective to become capable.

That puts you in the driver’s seat.




My two cents: Self talk: “Edward Bourne PhD. Anxiety specialist: “It is so automatic and subtle you don’t notice it or the effect it has on your moods and feelings. It appears in telegraphic form- one short word or image (”Oh no!) contains a whole series of thoughts, memories, or associations. Anxious.18th self-talk is typically irrational but almost always sounds like the truth.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jeanetteirene on October 15, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    I love this article. I am feeling proud of myself for holding the positive and capable self-talk. In a 2 year friendship, things turned south, and I was berated terribly for a mood I was in. I spoke my truth and called a ‘cooling off’ time. In this time, my friend went silent. I took some time to take stock of my end of things in this communication. I then addressed my friend with desire to heal this hurt. I still got nothing back. 5 weeks went by, and I was mourning the loss of this friendship, so I extended and ‘olive branch’ of mutual interest ….. his love of camping. He was quick to reply….. wanting to ‘pick up’ at the point before the berating. I said I wanted a conversation so we could not repeat that event. It was to be a problem solving discussion. It was negated. He wanted to just ‘laugh it off’ and not discuss or dissect anything. That told me a great deal about who he is. I was sad to have this friendship close, but I am proud that I am holding my ground on my needs. Reframing things to my own self-care of self talk, helped me weather this sad happening.

  2. Excellent

    Our self talk can be so negative in conflict

    Some avoid conflict at all costs

    Be proud of your stance, it comes out of fairness and communication

    Look how many couples lack open and honest dialogue

  3. MarandaRussel wrote

    I’ve always ruminated way too much. I know I do and yet I still do it

    Somehow I trashed your comment sorry

  4. You have The awareness now we need to use our tools

    Our focus we build meditating then we use it when needed

    All we need to do is focus on the breath and come to now. Negative self talk fades

    Next affirmations recited daily changes our self image and thus self talk

    In this moment me right now, I am worthy, confident, kind and grateful

    It and play during the day


    In the morning preparing for the day, listen to your inner voice

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