Every person on the planet lives with it: that little voice in their head. Sometimes it sounds like you, sometimes it sounds like someone else. It’s the ongoing monologue, the incessant play-by-play that runs through your mind whenever your brain isn’t actively focused. It’s called self-talk, and—whether you realize it or not—it has an enormous impact on nearly every aspect of your life.
You don’t have to be a passive audience member, consistently listening to your self-talk run rampant or replay old memories over and over. You can exert control over your self-talk and turn it into a force for positivity in your everyday life.
The Damage Of Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk is something we all experience. Have you ever played an embarrassing or shameful memory over and over again in your mind? Have you ever done something wrong and then lectured and berated yourself as a result? That’s negative self-talk. You may not realize it consciously, but negative self-talk is erosive. It wears away at your self-confidence, it inflates your anxiety and does various types of other damage.
Experts believe there are a few common factors that make your negative self-talk incredibly toxic. First, people tend to overemphasize their role in mistakes. They also blow situations out of proportion and relive memories through a black-and-white lens. So, memories are either catastrophic or amazing—nothing in between.
Just think about it: would you appreciate having someone continually reminding you of your worst moments? How about if that same person incessantly nagged you about the most recent mistake you’d made? It would be insufferable. You wouldn’t accept that behavior from someone else, so why would you heap it on yourself?
Mindfulness, Not Meanness
A lot of people mired in negative self-talk disguise this bad habit behind a mask of self-help. For example, if they make a mistake (as everyone does), they feel they deserve to lecture themselves, that they’re only helping remind themselves of ways to improve in the future. Learning from your mistakes is undoubtedly a positive attribute in any conscientious human. That said, when your education borders on hurtful repetition, you’re ceasing to learn from your mistakes and starting to punish yourself needlessly.
As a result, the first step toward developing a routine of positive self-talk is to remain mindful of when your negative emotions and self-direction are leaning toward abuse. You don’t deserve to punish yourself. When you start, stop yourself and redirect your line of thinking as best as you’re able.
Be Kind to Yourself
Identifying and eliminating negative self-talk isn’t quite enough on its own. You also need to pump up the amount of time you spend on positive self-reflection. Make sure to spend some time focused on relaxation and fun hobbies. If you’re not already in the habit, you might also consider exploring the benefits of meditation in developing a core of positive self-talk.
When you’re comfortable, you should also try to translate that inner positivity to the outside world by engaging in meaningful, productive conversations with the people you love. Finally, make sure you’re reinforcing your positive mental habits by engaging in a nutritious diet.
The Benefits of Positive Self-Talk
Once you take the time to practice the strategies that promote positive self-talk, you’ll soon discover several boons to the practice:
- Increased Self-Confidence: Consistently taking the time to remind yourself of your positive qualities will quickly transform into confidence around others.
- Reduced Stress: A significant portion of the negative self-talk on which people waste their time serves only to heighten their stress. When you eliminate that negative self-talk, you eliminate a massive amount of unneeded and unwanted stress.
- Improved Habits: When you engage in positive self-talk, you’re telling yourself that you “can do” something. That means eating better, hitting the gym once in a while and forming positive, productive relationships.
- Better Mood: If you find yourself in a consistently bad mood, it could be that you are experiencing the ill effects of negative self-talk. By replacing that conversation with positivity, you will find that you’re often much calmer and even happier.
Adopting a regimen of positive self-talk isn’t easy. Still, if you focus on staying positive and limiting the negativity you allow in your brain, you should be able to keep taking forward strides.
We all love getting compliments or hearing about how we’re valued. Why not take a moment to remind yourself of how much you appreciate… yourself? Being good to yourself goes a long way.