Most people who battle PTSD also battle negative self-talk. In fact, according to Dr. Linda Gantt, co-founder of Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown West Virginia, it’s not uncommon for people who hear trauma-related internal voices to be mis-diagnosed with schizophrenia.
If you know someone who’s experienced trauma, here are a few tips for helping them deal with their negative self-talk. Of course, the ultimate responsibility for changing their attitude and behavior lies with them, but you can be a loving, affirming support, as well as an accountability partner.
We’re not talking about shallow bragging, but rather, affirming aspects of character–things, like loving others, a positive work ethic, leadership, servanthood, sacrifice, gratitude, fostering peace, gentleness, patience and other virtues.
Find ways to weave your comments into conversation naturally, and learn to become observant of small things. Expressing appreciation frequently and genuinely is one powerful way to positively influence someone’s life.
Instead of saying, “You always cut yourself down,” say something like “It’s encouraging to hear you say positive things about yourself because I see positive qualities in you like _____________.”
Change you statements to I statements: “I feel less anxious when you take the car when you give me an idea when you’ll be home” instead of “You never come home on time”.
Unconditional acceptance doesn’t mean letting someone get away with unacceptable behavior. It does mean continuing to love them in spite of their failures, flaws, and struggles.
Unconditional love doesn’t mean a boundary-less relationship. In fact, a loving relationship requires healthy boundaries. Unconditional acceptance can be compared to Jesus’ love: We don’t love people more or less based upon their performance. We love them simply because we choose to.
Serving others stretches our focus away from ourselves and into the lives of people who are often struggling with problems and challenges different from and often more painful than our own.
Offer time at a homeless shelter. Provide tutoring in a prison. Serve as mentors for single-parent children. Help in an after-school program. Volunteer in a local hospital. Read to those who are shut-in or in nursing homes. Serve together, and watch as both your lives are changed.
Successful people aren’t afraid to fail. They become successful by trying and failing. Success is about being in the race and giving it your all. Help your friend learn to celebrate true effort and investment, not to rate themselves against others as the only way to “win.”
What about you? What suggestions do you have for helping a friend who’s struggling with negative self-talk?
How does PTSD influence negative self-talk? Learn how in our next blog.
My daughter has been struggling with anxiety ,depression and chronic pain most of her life. A few years ago ago she entered a relationship with a narcissistic man who abused her terribly. Now we can add PTSD to the list of her struggles. She will not come home, but has isolated herself in a very unfriendly area and job 400 miles from the people who love her (in spite if her verbal abuse of us all). How on the world can I help her long-distance? I call her every evening on her way home from work, listen to her cry, stay on the phone during panic attacks, and pray constantly to the God whom she currently blames for all the world’s woes. I cannot go see her because I am the only caregiver fir my husband, and am pretty much homebound. Please…I live in a small, conservative rural town, and there is no help or counsel to be found. I would greatly appreciate some wise advice.
Deaar Teresa, first of all, I want to tell you how much my heart goes our to you and to apologize to you for the delayed response. As a mother whose son suffered a serious head injury and lived for a time in dangerous circumstances very far from us, I ache for you. I cannot imagine a greater burden.
I know you long to hear an answer that will draw your daughter out of her horrible circumstances. But unfortunately, she will continue to make her own choices. You can supply her with sound counsel (which you are doing), information about shelters, resources, and options, but you cannot force choices on her. I suggest that you find support for yourself and learn to draw healthy boundaries that will be difficult but good for her and you. For instance, you nor any of your family members should allow yourselves to be verbally abused. Your daughter should not allow herself to be abused, and you should model this behavior for her in your interactions with her. She needs to focus on getting well. She needs a professional counselor who is trained in trauma and domestic violence. She is mentally ill. That is not a statement of criticism but of fact. She has PTSD and needs mental health care. The trick, of course, will be convincing her to go get help. I will be praying for you and your daughter.
I would like to connect you with thecaregiverspace.com . As noted your daughter may or may not respond to your pleas that she get help however care for your self is paramount given your role as a caregiver and value as a person. Get the help you can where you are to reduce your isolation. It is a great website with lots of opportunities to manage your circumstances better and to connect with others.
Thank you so much for the information, Sheila.