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How to respond to negative self-talk?

Discussion in 'Braaaaiiiinnnns...' started by Musarex, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. Musarex

    Musarex Active Member

    Not a problem recently, but it has been in the past.

    When someone is saying terrible things about themselves, ISTM that any possible response is has to sail between two bad interpretations:

    1: You're so right! You're hideous, a complete failure at life and a terrible person, and the world would be a far better place if you didn't exist! Damn, you really nailed it, well spotted!

    2: Of course there's nothing wrong with you, you fucking idiot. You're absolutely great, apart from the fact that your judgement is completely worthless, and I have no respect whatsoever for your feelings on the matter.

    Both outcomes are, of course, problematic. People always say that it's most important to be supportive and avoid invalidating their feelings, but that leads you smack into #1 above. How do you support and validate the assertion that someone is human garbage, without, you know, supporting and validating the idea that they're human garbage?

    What are you supposed to say? More lemonade? Just not engage with it at all? That doesn't seem useful, so how the fuck are you supposed to navigate it?
     
  2. Birdy

    Birdy so long

    ...it is possible to say the second thing and word it less aggressively. Like, if the person has known mental health problems, it's worth reminding them that their illness is likely distorting their perception.

    like, "I'm sorry you feel so bad about yourself. I think that the things you're saying aren't factually true, though, and your brain is telling you terrible things because you're stressed or upset. I still think you're a wonderful person and I care about you a lot."

    one thing to do is, don't argue. self-hatred spirals rarely if ever respond to logic, and you risk making them more upset and yourself frustrated.
     
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  3. TheOwlet

    TheOwlet A feathered pillow filled with salt and science

    It kinda depends on the Person and how well you know them but in the Past i've gone with something roughly like this:

    'I know that it feels that way for you but looking at it from the outside my impression is X. I think you're being very hard on yourself, perhaps harder than really warranted right now.'

    And if appripriate 'is there something i can do to help you cope with these feelings as they happen, like a distraction, an Outside Perspektive or practical sugfestions on how to improve this Situation for you somehow?'
     
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  4. palindromordnilap

    palindromordnilap Well-Known Member

    ... Wait, but I was actually told (not actually related to recent events, the people here who reacted this way have good reasons to) that negative self-talk is a manipulation strategy to get exactly this sort of answer, and they'll keep coming back for more? I mean, I assume it's kind of a mix of both in practically all cases, but IDK how to tell the two apart.
     
  5. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    At least some people get super-triggered by any suggestion that their brain is misfiring, because that's a Dehumanizing Tactic Used To Abuse People.

    And in some cases, you can pretty much prove that, yes, a particular belief is wildly inconsistent with observed reality. But it gets less useful when you try to apply that to general moods, because you can't prove anything about those, usually.

    What I generally go for is:
    1. Acknowledge the reality of the experience of feeling that way.
    2. Disregard, or mildly dispute, the accuracy of the belief.
    Also! A very useful tactic is to go off script.

    Conversation I had once a while back:

    <person> My brain is telling me that everyone hates me.
    <seebs> Objections! (1) I'm not everyone. (2) I don't actually hate you.

    This completely broke the bad-mood state, because it was not part of the script. The hellbrain knows that people will reassure you that they don't hate you. "Objection: I'm not everyone!" is an agreement that the person hates you, and yet for some reason they're arguing with your general bad mood, and then that gets contradicted and everything is weird and it turns silly.
     
  6. Birdy

    Birdy so long

    I mean, sometimes it is manipulative, but often it is expressing a genuine need to feel cared about (something can be manipulative without being malicious, and a lot of times people feel like they don’t have any better strategies for getting attention). if repeatedly having that conversation is taking a toll on the relationship or one is not able to provide for that person’s emotional needs to such a degree, then one needs to set boundaries.

    you have to decide what you’re able to do for people, but i think it’s not a terrible sin to like, rely on one’s friends for validation/comfort/support.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
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