No one starts there day hoping it will be cruddy and wanting things to go wrong. But all to often we allow external circumstances (ex: traffic, work, something someone said) dictate how we feel and in-turn what kind of day we have. You may not be able to control an external circumstance, however you can control how you react.
Something that may seem a bit harder is how we control our self-talk.
Benefits of Positive Self-Talk
Reduce Stress, Depression & Anxiety
Foster Healthy Relationships
Behavior & Habit Changes
I think we can all agree we like the benefits of positive self-talk, so let’s first, get on the same page; self-talk is your inner voice. Sometimes your conscious of it and other times you have no idea at all. Regardless of your awareness, we all do it, there is no stopping it. Your self-talk could be commentary about what’s happening around you, a reflection of a situation or event, or thoughts about your goals, dreams and desires.
If there are times that we aren’t even aware of it, how could we ever control it?
This is when you have to pay attention to how you are feeling. The way we feel in each moment is a clear indicator of what’s happening in our inner dialogue. When our thoughts are out of whack with what we want to accomplish, achieve, be, or do, we feel bad. Plain and simple negative emotions will surface when we’re out of alignment.
When you have negative feelings – stress, anxiety, depression, anger, sadness or resentment to name a few it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and become aware of what the trigger is. This is not to say that you should never allow yourself to have “bad” feelings. We all understand that life isn’t perfect. The goal here is to not let your negative self-talk consume you. Having the strategies and tools in place to help you turn your mood around is going to be the first step in releasing that negative self-talk.
One of the ways to identify the trigger and begin to reframe your thoughts is to understand what type(s) of negative self-talk you’re doing. You could be exercising one or more of these types at the same time and though you might do all of these from time to time, you probably do one or two more frequently.
4 Types of Negative Self-Talk
1) CATASTROPHIZING – extreme thinking, worst possible scenario
2) MAGNIFYING – mountain out of a molehill type, focus only on bad
3) PERSONALIZING – blame yourself
4) POLARIZING – divided into 2 sides “good” or “bad” with no middle ground
Once you understand that you’re speaking negatively to yourself and you know what type of negative self-talk you have a tendency towards you can start working on converting this negative self-talk into positive self-talk. Remember this is a practice and it’s going to take a continued effort to build a positive self-talk practice.
A positive self-talk practice will help you identify and then address your thoughts with confidence.
Tips to Shift Negative Self-Talk
Pray – ask for wisdom, comfort, confidence, grace, patience…
Think of something joyful
Focus on your breathing
Try to say it out loud
Pause, would you say this to a friend or your kid(s)?
When I do research and personal development, one of the things that helps me to understand and be able to implement those teaching is to have examples. So, here are some examples of positive self-talk. Find a few that resonate with you or hopefully this at least stirs your creative juices to come up with your own positive statements to use.
Positive Self-Talk Examples
THINK THIS - NOT THAT
This may take time and effort – This is too hard, I give up
Oops, I made a mistake – I’m dumb
I have faith in my skills and abilities – I’m not good at this
I will review my priorities – I’m lazy
I will initiate communication – No one communicates with me
I have many reasons to smile – Nothing is going my way
I am excited to care of my body – I’m fat
I am comfortable and confident with myself – Nobody likes me
I am beautiful inside and out - I’m ugly
I am in tune with what my body needs – I’m sick
I accept my failures and learn from them – I suck
I am full of integrity – Nobody trusts me
I make bold smart choices - I’m a victim
I deserve to be loved - I’m not worthy of love
The last thing I’ll leave you with today is to say that there may be certain circumstances, situations or people that encourage your negative self-talk to surface more than others. Pay attention to what triggers the negative self-talk behavior and try to minimize your exposure to them. If they’re unavoidable, like work or family, then go in with a plan on how you’re going to handle things that trigger you (like have your reframed statements ready). Plus, go into it with a positive attitude. I know this is hard, but if you go into the situation assuming it’s going to be negative then it almost certainly will. Remember you may not be able to control the external circumstances, but you can control how you react and now you know that you can [and should] control your self-talk too.