Your One Minute Habit to Banish Negative Self-Talk

One minute habits are a popular technique for habit change. They’re popular because they’re powerful. But, what if I told you that there’s a way to apply this concept outside of habits to achieve similar results when it comes to mental wellness? Yep, keep reading to learn about the one minute habit to banish negative self-talk.

The Power of the One Minute Habit

The concept of these habits is simple— reduce your habit to its simplest iteration you can do in one minute. So, instead of reading for 30 minutes every morning you read 1 page or for 1 minute. You can read more about the one minute habit and it’s variants here.

One minute habits are powerful because of their momentum. The hardest part of most habits is getting started. If you’ve never established a running habit it can feel daunting to lace up your shoes and go out running for 30 minutes every other morning. But, even with established habits, the toughest part can also be getting started. Getting up out of bed to lace up your shoes is usually the most difficult part of the habit. Once you’re up and shoes laced you’re fine to go on that run.

Examples of popular one minute habits include:

  • lace up your shoes
  • read one page
  • write one sentence
  • make your bed
  • set out your clothes the night before (work or workout)
  • check your bank account

Doing any of these habits can change the tone of your day or set up momentum for a larger activity or goal. Ex. checking-in on your bank account makes sure your finances are top of mind everyday. You can use this check-in to help you make smart financial decisions each day, and discourage impulse spending.

How do you apply the one minute habit to mental wellness?

So glad you asked.

The crux of the one minute habit is the momentum and the getting started. You can take this and apply it to a journaling practice when you’re feeling down, defeated, or in a negative mental-space.

Have you ever had those days where you’re brain is just full of negative self-talk? I’m ugly,  I don’t make good choices, I’m a shitty person, I’ll never achieve my goals. Insert your particular brand of negative self-talk here.

When you’re in this negative head space it can be a real challenge to think of anything positive. Sometimes being in this negative head space can also lead you to make choices you ordinarily wouldn’t because f*ck it. Or, you do something like spend money in an effort to cheer yourself up.

So, what do you do?

You focus on ONE thing. If you can’t get negative thoughts about your appearance out of your head, your task is to come up with ONE thing you like about the way you look. Your hair? Your eyelashes? It’s ok if you’re struggling and go with something like your elbow.

You’re feeling like you don’t make good choices? What’s ONE good choice you’ve made today? This week? This year? If you brushed your teeth sometime this morning— that’s one good decision made.

You’re feeling like you make poor spending choices? What’s ONE good one you’ve made? Maybe you closed your browser tab on Sephora last week before checking-out that $100 cart. Maybe you logged into the apple store and cancelled some recurring memberships or payments last month. Maybe you opted-out of an email list. You have made at least one good spending choice.

This exercise is intended to remind you of two things:

The first is that your brain is a liar. It’s lying to you when it thinks about you in absolutes. We are rarely, if ever, wholly bad at every aspect of life, our goals, or our personhood. Even if your negative thoughts feel real or like truth in the moment. They’re not.

The second is that you’ve usually got one good thing going for you. Please see item one above, but this goes beyond absolutes. There is something positive, at least one thing, in those categories you’ve been thinking about. It’s also worth repeating that the most difficult part is thinking of the first thing. I encourage you to keep going beyond listing one item if you’re feeling the momentum.

Perhaps challenge yourself. Could you possibly think of two good spending choices you made this year? What about three? Sure, you can stick with one and this doesn’t have to become a 30 minute activity where you list everything positive about yourself that you could possibly think about. That is also a fun exercise but time and place you know? Anyways, if you have it in you to list one or two more I encourage you to go for it.

The takeaway

This exercise should take you a minute or two so don’t get too hung up on your choices. Go with your gut or the first thing that comes to mind.  Feel free to do this when you’re feeling great about yourself or consult your notes if you’ve done this a few times.  Plus, the more you do this the easier the recall is. A few years ago I struggled to recall. It took me nearly five minutes to agree that my hair could “look nice sometimes.” I now believe that I do have great hair, my eyebrows are awesome (a lil bushy which is exactly what I like), and I have nice eyes. There have been bigger strides but exercises like this can help us change the way we think about ourselves overtime. And, they give us a tool to help us re-frame our thoughts when we’re struggling.

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