The inner voice inside all of us is a useful, underutilized tool we can employ during times of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. When used effectively, positive self talk helps us achieve success, challenge negative thoughts, and quiet the inner critic.But be aware: Your inner dialogue is a powerful force that can either propel you towards success or hinder your progress. When we let our inner dialogue become dominated by negative thinking and negative feelings, we do ourselves more harm than good. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to focus on the negative thoughts over the positive thoughts.How many times have you found yourself in a challenging situation, and immediately became your own worst critic? Saying things like:
“I’m such an idiot.”
“I am a failure.”
“I should give up now.”
What we often forget is that these words have impact, and even unspoken, internal dialogue can eat away at our self esteem, ruin motivation, and keep us in a negative mindset. They dominate our unconscious beliefs and promote cognitive distortions.That’s why it is so important to develop compassion for ourselves through positive self talk.Positive self talk is the art of nurturing an optimistic and encouraging relationship with yourself. Not even our closest, most intimate relationships compare in importance to the relationship we have with ourselves — we are with ourselves every second of every day. Rather than spending your day being your worst enemy, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to challenge our negative, unconscious beliefs and replace them with a renewed sense of self worth through positive self talk.In this blog post, we’ll explore the transformative potential of positive self talk and how it acts as a driving force to help you meet your goals. By harnessing the magic of kind and motivating inner conversations, you can unlock your full potential and pave the way for achievement in professional life, better mental health, and personal growth.
What is positive self talk?
Positive self talk is the practice of consciously directing your thoughts and inner dialogue towards constructive, optimistic, and supportive perspectives. It involves recognizing and challenging negative self-talk patterns that undermine your confidence and goals.Positive self talk is not about being narcissistic or delusional about our abilities; it’s about reassessing negative thoughts about our skills, identities and achievements and inching us towards a more compassionate, oftentimes more accurate, idea of ourselves and what we offer to the world. Positive people still get sad, they may fail at certain things, or go through challenges that impact their goals, but they tend to focus on the present moment, the lessons learned, and all the positives that are still a part of their lives.For example, rather than saying, “I should try harder,” a person practicing positive self talk may say, “I tried my best and did better than before!”Positive self talk goes hand in hand with self compassion, or the idea that we should treat ourselves with the same compassion and emotions we would extend to a friend in need. We hope to make a positive impact on a friend who is going through stress, depression, or anxiety, and when we allow ourselves to do the same for our own mental health, we transform our inner voice from critic to champion.
How does practicing positive self talk help me in everyday life?
Positive self-talk nurtures self-belief. When you believe in your abilities and potential, you’re more likely to set ambitious goals and work diligently towards achieving them. Encouraging inner dialogues remind you of your past successes and capabilities, reinforcing your self-confidence.Developing research on the effects of self talk is compelling, and in fact, positive self talk has been shown to improve many aspects of our wellbeing and mental health, including improved cognition, ability, and mood.And you don’t have to take my word for it! Recent studies have highlighted the hidden potential of something as simple as positive affirmations in transforming our performance and approach to challenges in life.In 2019, researchers from the Leipzig University Institute of Sport Psychology and Physical Education found that in junior athletes, positive self talk improved not only anxiety and self-confidence, butactually improved their performance. This is a fascinating finding, because it demonstrates what athletes in particular have reasoned for decades: that perspective, self talk, and building yourself up as you would a friend leads to success on the field. Positive thinking is more than simply the thoughts themselves; they are the foundation that allows us to pursue our dreams with increased confidence, positive feelings, and less negativity.TheMayo Clinic in particular highlights the many benefits of positive self talk, including:
Increased life span
Lower rates of depression
Greater immune system function
Improved cardiovascular health
Better coping skills during stress or hardship
The positive outcomes can go on, but you get the idea! Now that we’ve seen evidence of the wonderful benefits of treating ourselves kindly, with positive thinking and grace, let’s get into the specific ways you can practice positive self talk in your life.
How can I practice positive self talk?
If speaking positively to yourself sounds foreign, you’re not alone. Our brains are naturally inclined to focus on the negatives, a cognitive phenomenon known as “negativity bias“. Oftentimes this bias causes us to distort the reality of our situation, and emphasize the negative aspects of our memories, achievements, capabilities, and skill.The way we combat negative self talk is through positive self talk. If you don’t know where to start, rest easy: you’ve come to the right place.
1. Recognize and become aware of your thoughts and internal dialogue
You may be thinking this is an obvious first step, but hear me out: we are so used to letting rumination, worry, and anxiety dominate our internal state during times of hardship, that we forget our power. We forget that these negative thoughts are within our control because they seem so overwhelming and all-consuming.The first step in practicing positive self talk is in recognizing when you’re thinking negatively about yourself, and explicitly, any thoughts that appear to have a running pattern. I recommend keeping a daily journal, writing down a sentence or two that captures the thought and feeling.
2. Challenge negative self talk
Once you’ve become used to recognizing your thought patterns, when you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, challenge those beliefs with logic. Ask if you are being unreasonably hard on yourself. Are you holding yourself to an impossible standard? Would you say the same thing to a friend who was struggling with the same challenge?This is an important mindfulness step, where we learn to challenge extreme negativity with positivity and truth. Reframe these thoughts with a more positive alternative. It could be a small step, such as recognizing you’re being too harsh with yourself. Remember, negative thinking is not reality.
3. Write down daily positive affirmations
A gratitude journal can work wonders for reminding yourself of all the positive qualities, achievements, and lessons learned when you’re facing adversity. Affirmation activities are more than simply writing good things about yourself — they are precise, specific, and help us practice positivity by relying on our own words. For example, you may write something like, “I am resilient and have faced many challenges in my life with confidence.”
Positive self-talk isn’t just about wishful thinking; it’s a powerful tool that propels you towards your goals and enriches your life.By fostering self-belief, overcoming self-doubt, maintaining motivation, and cultivating resilience, positive self-talk becomes your steadfast ally on your journey towards success. It will shock you how much control you take back when you exercise your self worth, become your own greatest champion, and begin to move in a more positive direction.As you embrace the habit of nurturing kind and motivating inner conversations, you unlock your true potential, boost your self-confidence, and propel yourself towards the realization of your dreams and goals.
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