Self-talk is the interval story we create for ourselves. It’s the mental narrative we grant permission to be the overarching theme of our life. As our thoughts create our actions, which create our behaviours which create our habits, which creates the quality of our life. And so, we can either engage in negative self-talk where we’re constantly putting ourselves down, thinking the worst and have a pessimistic outlook on life. Or, we can use words of affirmations, mantras, parables, inspirational quotes and other words of wisdom that help lead us in a more positive direction. Positive self-talk is important because it’s our internal program that dictates how we live. And so, only we can change it…
Expanding Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk is essentially a declaration of what we want out of life. And as long as you’re rooted in negatively, that is, unfortunately, what you’ll continue to attract. And that’s not intended as a fear statement or anything designed to trigger you. It’s an immutable law of the universe. The law of attraction. You need to be a match for an experience in order to manifest it in your life. And positive self-talk is a big part of how you make that happen. That’s why it’s so transformative. Because it has the potential to help you manifest your dreams. But, you need to put in the effort to make it work for you on a consistent basis. It’s not enough to give yourself a token pat on the back and expect your entire life to do a 180-degree turn.
Undoing Your Negative Self-Talk
If you’ve allowed yourself to become rooted in negative self-talk for an extended period of time, it’s going to take a significant amount of time to undo and delete those programs you’ve created for yourself. Whether they’ve been the result of a traumatic childhood with neglectful parents, an intensely competitive peer group. Or, even thoughts that you’ve created off your own back.
You need to unravel all of that negative self-talk and replace it with more constructive thoughts. It’s not enough to simply throw out the garbage. Because it’ll simply leave a vacuum for the next most persuasive and prevalent thought to come in and take over the role as the chief antagonist within your hierarchy of motivating – or demotivating – thoughts. You need to fill that power vacuum with intentionality and what it is you actually want out of life..
And if you’re in any doubt over the benefits, if you engage in positive self-talk over the long term, it can help:
- Increase your vitality
- Provide greater life satisfaction
- Improve immune function
- Reduce the symptoms of physical pain
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Increase resilience and decrease stress
Our mental health is intimately linked with our physical health. We, as humans, exist as an ecosystem where each part of our being is involved in the cause and effect.
Identifying Negative Thinking Patterns
But to adopt positive self-talk, you need to understand how and why you’re talking to yourself in the way that you are right now. You need to identify your negative thinking patterns, which fall into four categories.
Personalising: Which is where you blame yourself for everything that goes wrong in your life. And is essentially personal accountability taken to the extreme. Sometimes, things are just out of your control and you need to accept that.
Magnifying: This is where you focus only on the negative aspects of a situation, ignoring all the positive elements that might serve either as opportunities or as a way to solve the problem you’re facing.
Catastrophising: This is often where you expect the worst in every situation you encounter. Even if there’s a logical answer to your problem, you won’t let yourself be persuaded otherwise.
Polarising: This is where you see the world in black and white terms. Things are either all good or all bad, and there’s rarely any room in-between.
Every time you engage in a form of negative self-talk, it will fit into one of these four patterns. And once you begin the process of recognising them, you can start swapping them out for more positive statements that will allow you to create a new story for yourself. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. So it is important to measure your expectations. It will take time and effort as it’s a process, not an event.
But if you’re willing to show up with yourself in this way, and be consistent with your effort, you can achieve some truly transformative results.
Positive Self Talk Roleplay
Let’s take a look at some examples of negative self-talk and how they might be changed.
Negative: “If I don’t follow through with my obligations the people will think I’m unreliable, a bad person and will never trust me again.”
Positive: “My choices are mine and mine alone. If I need to make adjustments for the good of my own wellbeing, I’ll explain my position and if they’re truly my friends, they’ll understand why I’ve had to change my mind.”
Let’s look at another one…
Negative: “I can’t believe I’ve made such a mess of this again. I’ve let myself down and I’ll never get to where I want to be in life.”
Positive: “Ok, I’ve tried my best, but doing it this way hasn’t worked out for me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try again. I can look at all the places I went wrong and make sure I don’t make those same mistakes next time.
And a third one might be…
Negative: “I’m already so overweight and unfit, I may as well just get that McDonalds. It’s not exactly going to make a difference whether I eat it anyway.”
Positive: “It might take me a long time to get to my ideal weight, but the only way I’m going to get there is by making better choices for myself at each mealtime. It was lots of little bad choices that got me here. And by making lots of little small choices in the opposite direction, I can reach my goals.”
You can see all we’ve done here is simply take the negative and flipped it. Oftentimes, that’s all it takes. However, sometimes not. Negative self-talk can be persistent. But making the effort to rid yourself of it is worth it. And to do so, you’ll need to create a strategy to catch yourself out in the moment, so you can start addressing each negative thought one by one.
And that could mean…
Identifying negative self-talk traps: These are the times when you’re most at risk of being triggered and having a negative mental reaction that causes you to reinforce your narrative. If you know when these events are going to take place and what you’ll say to yourself, you can guard against them with prepared statements to override your negative self-talk.
Check-in with yourself throughout the day: Try and make a habit of asking yourself where you’re at with your emotions. Use your discernment. Are you allowing yourself to slip into negativity? And if so, then why? Trace your emotion back the moment they shifted. This regular check-in can be a good strategy in the beginning when you’re not too aware of your patterns, yet.
Improve the quality of the people in your life: If you’re constantly surrounding yourself with people who are complaining about their lot in life, it’s going to rub off on you. It may even be what’s contributed to your own negative self-talk in the first place. Don’t be afraid to cut the dead weight from your life if they’re dragging you down.