Your self-talk, that constant conversation you have with yourself, can make a big difference in your health and happiness. You can use self-criticism to put obstacles in your way, or you can empower yourself using positive self-talk to become the kind of person that gets the most out of life and achieves more.
Self-talk is what psychologists call the inner dialogue you carry on with yourself. This dialog is filled with conscious and subconscious beliefs that began in early childhood and that you continue to add to today.
The way you talk to yourself is a habit. Like all habits, you can reprogram it to give you different, better results. You can continue to allow your inner critic to convince yourself that you’re inadequate or you can use your self-talk to remind yourself of your potential to learn and grow. Using positive self-talk builds your confidence, removes barriers and makes it easier for you to persevere.
That’s what we’re going to talk about today, learning how to take control of your self-talk. You can use these tips to help you become a better friend to yourself so you can get more out of life.
General Principles for Adjusting Your Self-Talk:
1. Pay attention to your self-talk
You cannot change anything useless you are aware of how it is affecting you. So, the first step in changing your self-talk is becoming more familiar with it. In Mindful Mastery, you become acquainted with the 5 R process. In the first step you learn how to be aware of your self-talk so you can understand how to control it.
The facts are many of the messages that you send to yourself are so automatic that you don’t even notice them. This is why the 5 R process includes keeping a journal where you write down what you say to yourself. This helps you to pay more attention to and capture what you’re telling yourself.
2. Have something good to say to yourself.
The fourth step in the 5 R process is to replace your negative self-talk with a positive affirmation. You need to have a number of alternatives ready for the patterns that you want to change. Make a list of positive affirmations you can use to replace your old put-downs. If you are a little unsure of what to say to yourself, browse online for ideas, otherwise you can use your own words.
3. Identify the options you have.
Negative self-talk focuses your perspective on the negative events that are going on or could go on in your life. This can narrow your vision. To give your mind a positive perspective, read self-help books and biographies of people who have dealt with difficulty and setbacks. See how using positive self-talk changed their lives and then use their example to help you in your situation.
4. Let things out of your control go.
Many things are beyond your control. Determine what they are and then stop blaming yourself for them. Almost every event has a number of different causes. While it’s important to take responsibility for your actions, beating yourself up for things out of your control will block you from moving forward and finding a solution.
5. Learn to be self-compassionate.
Imagine talking to a small child. Would you them, “I can’t believe how stupid you are”? Of course not.
The same goes for your adult self. Don’t use this kind of caustic self-talk. Instead, learn to be self-compassionate. Be kind to yourself.
Imagine you’re speaking to yourself as a small child. This will help you to avoid harsh words or insults.
6. Ask yourself, “Is this true?”
The more you use negative self-talk the more exaggerated it becomes. When you tell yourself, “I can never do anything right”, ask yourself, “Is this true?” What you’ll obviously find is you have done many things correctly in your life. Always check the accuracy of your statements and then stick to the facts.
7. Be patient.
Using positive self-talk works, but it usually doesn’t work overnight. It will take considerable repetition to replace your old messages with positive, more constructive wording. Be patient and hang in there. After a while, your new affirmations will become more natural and authentic.
Specific Strategies for Adjusting Your Self-Talk:
1. Use the present tense.
You cannot take action in the past or in the future. The only time when you can take action is now, in the present. When using positive self-talk, keep it focused on the present moment.
2. Use your name in your affirmations.
Researchers have found that addressing yourself by name is often more effective than using pronouns. Speaking your name encourages you to be more objective. It may also make you feel like you have company.
3. Use the mirror when saying your affirmations.
Looking in the mirror reinforces your messages. Look yourself in the eyes when using your positive self-talk messages.
4. Place reminders where you can see them.
Having reminders can help you stay on track. Surround yourself with cues for using positive self-talk to speak to yourself with kindness and respect. Spend time with family and friends who you know boost your spirits. Write inspiring quotes on sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror, your car’s dashboard or near your office phone.
5. Say your positive affirmations aloud.
Find a place with a little privacy and repeat your affirmations out loud. While it may be awkward to tell yourself that you’re amazing in the middle of a coffee shop, you could record a message on your phone that you can listen to whenever you need it.
6. Consider going to therapy.
A habit of speaking to yourself negatively can be hard to shake, especially if you’ve been reinforcing it for years. Talking with a mental health professional could give you insight into your patterns and give you other ideas of how to deal with it. Ask your doctor for a referral or consult the online Psychologist Locator at The American Psychological Association.
Use These Tips to Change How You Talk to Yourself
Using positive self-talk can help you transform your life and live a happier and more meaningful life. Instead of holding you back, you can use that little voice inside you as a powerful tool for reducing stress and helping you to reach your goals. Use these tips to ensure that your self-talk is lifting you up and guiding you toward success.