We all talk to ourselves throughout the day. Sometimes we may do it out loud, but most of it happens in our heads. This is our self talk, and like any conversation, it can be both positive and negative. Yet the way we talk about ourselves has a significant impact on our thoughts and emotions, even when we do not necessarily believe what we are saying to ourselves in the moment.
Positive Self Talk for Positive Emotions
The words we use in self talk are important. Most people, at some point in their lives, have made a mistake at work and criticized themselves for being stupid or looked in the mirror and said some part of their appearance was unattractive. Or you may still be ruminating about a past event and telling yourself how you could have done it better.
The problem is that describing ourselves in these negative ways, even in our head, has several negative repercussions. Just as if someone else criticized you, hearing criticism from yourself can make you feel bad in the moment. These thoughts can also alter your beliefs. You may mean “I’m an idiot” as a throwaway comment after a mistake, but say it enough and it can become a deeply held belief.
Eventually, you will find these negative thoughts more present in your self talk, creating a cycle that quickly spirals downward.
Fortunately, positive self talk can change our thoughts as readily as negative self talk. Negativity is often more difficult than positivity, so consciously applying these techniques as you shift your thinking will help you get to the point at which positive self talk is automatic:
- Pay Attention – Self talk often happens in the background. Start focusing on the moments when you criticize yourself.
- Question the Accuracy – When you hear self talk, ask yourself if it is correct. Are you really an idiot or did you just make an honest mistake at work?
- Give a Compliment – If you have slipped and said something negative, follow it up with a compliment.
- Rephrase the Negatives – When you are about to say something negative, reframe it into a positive. You missed the deadline at work because you are so talented in delivering exactly what the client asked for even if it takes a little longer.
Hyperbole, as long as it is positive, is completely acceptable. Making this change is not something that will happen immediately, but you can use any mistakes as a chance to practice your positive self talk. Put in this work and you will start to notice more confidence and a better outlook in all areas of your life.