You can do it. You’re strong. You’ve got this. Those are the kinds of encouraging words we extend to friends, colleagues, and family members when they’re experiencing self-doubt. When facing our own challenges, the inner dialogue is often very different. I’m a terrible public speaker. I take too long to write these reports. Everyone in this class is so much smarter than I am. Suddenly, the compassion we so naturally and generously extend to others seems to evaporate. But learning to be kind to yourself is work worth doing. Replacing negative psychological messages with positive ones can build self-esteem and confidence, and may bring results that surprise you in all the right ways. To get there, it all starts with self-talk.
What is Self-Talk?
Self-talk is the way you talk to yourself or your inner voice. You might not be aware that you’re doing it, but you almost certainly are. This inner voice combines conscious thoughts with inbuilt beliefs and biases to create an internal monologue throughout the day. Self-talk is important because it has a big impact on how you feel and what you do. It can be supportive and beneficial, motivating you, or it can be negative, undermining your confidence.
What is Negative Self-Talk?
Negative self-talk is when your inner voice is excessively negative, sounding more like an inner critic. It is pessimistic and focuses on the bad. It erodes your confidence and stops you from reaching your potential. It can make you feel like you are going to fail before you start. It can sound like “I’m never going to be able to do this”, “I’m no good at this”, or “I’ve tried everything — nothing works”. Negative self-talk can be repetitive and often does not reflect reality. It can lead to rumination, which is repetitive with intrusive negative thoughts.
Flipping the Narrative
Once you tune in to your inner voice, you can begin to reverse any negative trends.
- Instead of “I’ve never done it before,” try “It’s an opportunity to learn something new.”
- Instead of “It’s too complicated,” try “I’ll tackle it from a different angle.”
- Instead of “No one bothers to communicate with me,” try “I’ll see if I can open the channels of communication.”
- Instead of “It’s too radical a change,” try “Let’s take a chance.”
- Instead of “I’m not going to get any better at this,” try “I’ll give it another try.”
- Instead of “I don’t have the resources,” try “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
You may not be dreaming of Olympic bling, but if you want to reap rewards in ways that are meaningful to you, consider tweaking your self-talk point of view. Referring to yourself in the second or third person can make a difference, too.
Tips to Stop Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can become repetitive and overwhelming and often feels like it’s true. To break out of that cycle try these tips:
1. Be Aware of What You’re Saying to Yourself
Just the act of stopping and recognizing negative thoughts for what they are, is the first step to working through the problem. Ask yourself, would you talk like this to someone else?
2. Challenge Your Thoughts
Ask yourself — is it true? (often it’s not). Ask yourself if there’s another explanation or way of looking at a situation. Remember that many things you worry about don’t happen. Much negative self-talk is exaggerated.
3. Put Your Thoughts Into Perspective
Try and look at things from a different perspective. Perhaps from a different person’s perspective. Try writing your thoughts down or saying them out loud. Ask yourself will this matter in a few years’ time?
4. Stop The Thought
You can do this ‘thought stopping’ technique visually — by imagining the thought being stopped or squashed etc — or by having a little ritual.
5. Replace the Thought with a Neutral or Positive Thought
Ask yourself — what is a more helpful thought?
It can take some time to recognize your negative thoughts — remember they have been part of you for a long time and it can take up to 3 months to change old habits. Over time though you can replace the unhealthy negative thoughts with more positive ones. Practice makes it easier.
Tips to Improve Positive Self-Talk
Practice thinking good things about yourself. Very simply, practice seeing half a glass as being half full, rather than half empty. Identify your strengths as part of your self-talk, and accept compliments for what you achieved. A helpful way to improve positive self-talk is to look, think and act in a positive way. Surround yourself with positive and optimistic people. Try to turn negative talk into neutral or positive self-talk.
So, if after reading this you’re still thinking, “I could never do that,” how about, “Here’s my chance to try something new”? You’ve got this.
Article Credit: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/self-talk https://www.waldenu.edu/online-bachelors-programs/bs-in-psychology/resource/how-positive-self-talk-can-make-you-feel-better-and-be-more-productive