“Many people are conscious of an inner voice that provides a running monologue on their lives throughout the day,” notes Psychology Today. “This inner voice, or self-talk, combining conscious thoughts and unconscious beliefs and biases, provides a way for the brain to interpret and process daily experiences.”
“Our self-talk can be cheerful and supportive or negative and self-defeating.” When it’s positive, self-talk can be calming and bolster our confidence. Unfortunately, it’s in our nature to gravitate towards negative self-talk.
Often, negative self-talk leads to sweeping assertions, such as “I can’t do anything right” or “I’m a complete failure."
“The problem with negative self-talk is that it typically does not reflect reality, and so it can convince people, wrongly, that they are not only not good enough, but that they can never get better, paralyzing them into self-absorption and inaction,” adds Psychology Today.
Those “with depression and anxiety frequently experience destructive and dysfunctional self-talk; the internal chatter they hear may be incessant and overly critical. Overwhelmed by the negativity, they can wallow in painful rumination, attacking themselves ceaselessly.” And, in severe cases, “this type of inner dialogue can be curtailed with professional treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.”
If you believe that your self-talk is too negative, then it’s time to emphasize positive self-talk.
The power of positive self-talk.
Before going any further, it should be explained that positive self-talk isn’t ignoring the negative or unpleasant aspects of life. Instead, it’s flipping the narrative so that you can approach these issues in a more positive and productive way.
For example, if you made a mistake at work, that might trigger a past experience where you were reprimanded for the error. You then explain internally, “I can’t believe I did that! I’m such an idiot and will pay for that later!” Instead, try telling yourself, “Tomorrow is a chance to try again, with the lessons learned from today.”
When practiced regularly, positive self-talk has the ability to;
Reduce stress and anxiety
Encourages healthy habits
Decrease negativity and psychological symptoms
As a result, this can enhance your psychological and physical well-being, coping skills, and life span. You may even notice advancements in your immune system, personal relationships, and work performance.
Implementing positive self-talk into your daily routine.
It may seem like an exaggeration, but positive self-talk can change your life for the better. So, here’s how you can practice it daily.
1. Don’t fall into negative self-talk traps.
The first step you need to take is being able to identify negative thinking. Usually, this fall into the following categories;
Personalizing. This is when you blame everything on yourself.
Magnifying. Here you would focus solely on the negative aspects of an experience or situation without acknowledging any of the positive.
Catastrophizing. You always expect the worst.
Polarizing. With this type of thinking, there’s only “black” and “white” and no “grey” area.
Being aware of these types of negative thinking can help you identify triggers. For example, work may cause anxiety or self-doubt. In turn, you’ll always expect this to be terrible. Knowing this in advance can help you prepare and brainstorm ideas that will counteract this negativity.
2. Treat yourself like you would a friend.
“Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else,” advises the Mayo Clinic staff. “Be gentle and encouraging with yourself.”
“If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things you're thankful for in your life.”
3. Make self-care a priority.
Even if you feel that only have a small window of time, spend a couple of minutes each day doing something for yourself. It’s not selfish. Instead, it’s engaging in activities that rejuvenate your overall and health-being.
Self-care examples include mindfulness meditation, physical activities, preparing healthy meals, and doing the things that make you happy, such as playing with your kids or reading a book outside.
4. Limit your exposure to negativity.
You can’t completely bury your head in the sand. But, you can at least limit the amount of negativity in your life. For example, you can remove social media apps from your phone to avoid “doomscrolling.” If there’s a toxic friend, you might want to cut back on the amount of time that you spend with them and surround yourself with more positive people instead.
5. Practice gratitude.
Regardless if you keep a gratitude journal or just have a mental checklist, finding the things that you’re grateful for can improve your attitude. This will eventually lead to improved self-talk since you’re focusing on the good things that you have in your life, as opposed to what you don’t.
6. Change your vocabulary.
Have you caught yourself saying “I can’t” too often? If so, then this is limiting yourself to prevail. Remove this word from your vocabulary and replace it with “I can.”
7. Take a timeout.
If you feel as if a negative thought creeping in, stop what you’re doing and check in with your feelings. You don’t have to literally stop at the very second. But, when you have a chance, remove yourself from the situation, cool down, and think of ways to put a positive spin on the situation.
8. Post positive affirmations.
You can also change your mindset by strategically placing positive affirmations and mantras around your home and workplace to visually remind you to remain in a positive and compassionate place.
Attempting to do this took courage and I’m proud of myself for trying.
I have value and purpose.
I can’t control what other people think, say, or do. I can only control myself.
Fear is only a feeling, it cannot hold me back.
I can use my strengths (list a few!) to work through this. I don’t have to be good at everything and I can use these strengths to my advantage to achieve my goals here.
Even though it wasn’t the outcome I hoped for, I learned a lot about myself.
9. Find the humor.
Laughter is truly the best medicine. So, give yourself permission to laugh. Whether if that’s watching a clip on YouTube, thinking about a funny past experience, or spending time with someone who always makes you smile.
10. Work with a professional.
Finally, if you’ve tried all of the above and you’re not successful in changing how you talk to yourself, it’s time to meet with a mental health professional. They can work with you to pinpoint the origins of your self-talk, as well as strategies on how to flip the script.