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Bad Attitude? Who Are You Listening To?

Bad Attitude? Who Are You Listening To?


Whether or not you're moving your lips, you spend a lot of time talking to yourself. In fact, human beings go through the day in a constant conversation with their own inner voice. It's how we make sense of what's going on around us and figure out our next move--from something as simple as checking out what's available to eat and how to get it to deciding who might be relationship material...and how to get it. If you're dealing with HIV, you probably already know the importance of having a positive attitude. But have you taken a look at how your inner dialogue might be tripping you up? Take a mental step back and observe your own self-talk. Are you talking to yourself about what's possible and what encourages you to make use of your own strengths? Or are you assuming the absolute worst, throwing every possible roadblock in your way--and then beating yourself up for not being perfect? If your inner voice isn't on your side, there are a few things you can do. Turn self-criticism into affirming questions. When you hear that inner voice say something like 'You're gonna fall on your face' or 'This is impossible,' ask yourself, 'Is there a way I can be a success here?' When you stop limiting yourself and assuming the worst, you open up to new possibilities. Silence the inner voice. When you hear your inner voice throwing another barrier or criticism in your direction, just tell it to shut up. Psychologists call this thought stopping.Remind yourself that you're doing the best you can. Follow the poison with an antidote--something like 'I am a work in progress. I'm handling my life the best way I know how, and I'm getting better at it every day.' Learn from life's lessons and move on. Get support in ganging up on your inner critic. Make a list of the people in your life you trust and count on to help you keep a positive focus. Get in touch when you have something you need to kick around. Your emotional well-being and self-esteem take a serious hit from self-criticism. Change your self-talk and get a whole new outlook! McClain is a licensed counselor in New York City with a speciality in coping with chronic and life-threatening health conditions. His books include The Complete Idiot's Guide to Breaking Bad Habits and Empowering Your Life With Joy, and he is a frequent contributor to health-related publications. He is also on the board of directors of Miracle House, a nonprofit that serves patients and caregivers who are visiting New York City for HIV or cancer treatment. He welcomes e-mail at

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