How self talk is the most important narrative you hold about yourself...
We all talk to ourselves right?
We give ourselves instructions while we carry out a task, random observations about our environment or a situation, or it could be what is often referred to as self-talk.
Self-talk is the internal narrative you hold about yourself. It’s your inner voice and you may or may not have spent much time thinking about it or giving it any attention. The truth is, our self-talk can actually have a much bigger influence on the way we see ourselves, and the world around us than we realise.
Self-talk is generally thought to be a mix of conscious and unconscious beliefs and biases that we hold about ourselves and the world generally.
Self-talk can be positive or negative – and paying attention to which you most often sway towards, can help you start making proactive changes about how you take on life’s challenges.
The Big One: Negative Self-Talk
Sadly all too often our self-talk is negative – we focus on preconceived ideas that we’re ‘not good enough’ or ‘always a failure’ or ‘can’t do anything right’.
How often do you tell yourself you are an idiot, clumsy, stupid? Tell yourself off, berate yourself for not being perfect?
Did you know on average we have 60,000 thoughts a day AND that 90% of them are negative! Crazy stats right And did you know our brains are hardwired to remember negative experiences over positive ones, so we recall the times we didn’t quite get it right more than the times we do. We then replay these messages in our minds, fuelling negative feelings.
The Better One: Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk, as you may have guessed, is the flip of negative self-talk. It’s not about narcissism, or deceiving ourselves into thinking things that are inaccurate. It’s more about showing yourself some self-compassion and understanding for who you are and what you’ve been through.
Positive self-talk sees our internal narrative switching to ideas like ‘I can do better next time’ or ‘I choose to learn from my mistakes, not be held back by them’.
Maybe even congratulating ourselves, a little well done here or there.
Positive self-talk is important for a so many reasons. From helping to overcome our thoughts about our physical appearance, to sports performance, lowering anxiety, to more effective learning: positive self-talk can make a world of difference.
Positive self-talk isn’t about knowing all the answers or thinking you’re amazing, it’s simply about reframing how you view things, removing negative bias, and approaching life with the idea that you can tackle things – and even if it doesn’t go perfectly – you’ll learn from it for next time.
Positive self talk can and will:
1. Boost Confidence and Resilience
Approaching life with a positive self-talk approach can help to boost your self confidence. Truth is positive people really do seem to do better at stuff, people with positive self-esteem are more likely to achieve their goals, score better academically and even recover quickly from illness or surgery. And we all know there is a virtuous circle effect of think positive – achieve – congratulate – confidence – keep going.
Regular positive self-talk can help you to feel more confident in the face of achieving your goals, as you instill yourself with the belief that the things you want are achievable, and when problems do arise, you find workarounds.
2. Helps to Reduce Stress
Research has shown that people who are more inclined towards thinking optimistically, are also more inclined towards positive self-talk and use more active coping strategies when faced with stressful situations and challenges.
Positive self-talk helps you re frame the way you look at situations, understanding that you will approach challenges with the best of your ability and that whatever the outcome – you did the best you could. Tackling these situations with an ‘I can do this’ mindset rather than a negative ‘This is too hard’ one, opens up new ways of thinking and problem-solving resulting in less stress
3. Helps Build Better Relationships
You’re probably aware of what it feels like to be around someone who is positive, self-assured and content in who they are as a person. They exude confidence, and it reflects positively on those around them.
People who utilise positive self-talk are also extremely capable of picking up on the positive traits of those around them.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with so if you are surrounding yourself with positivity and confidence – you will feel more positive and confident.
How to use Positive Self Talk...
Before you can begin to use positive self-talk, you first need to identify how often and what type of negative thinking/self-talk you engage in. Once you understand this, you can make a start on retraining your thoughts.
Negative self-talk tends to fall into one of four categories:
- Personalising: You blame yourself when things go wrong. You say sorry for everything? Even when it literally wasn’t you?
- Polarising : You see things only as good or bad, no grey areas or room for middle ground.
- Magnifying : You only focus on the bad or negative in every scenario and dismiss anything good or positive.
- Catastrophising : You always expect the worst.
You might identify with only one of these categories or multiple. The point is once you start categorising your thoughts like this, you can then begin to work on switching them for more positive frames.
This won’t happen overnight, and you’ll need to ensure you put in the practice to really hone in on your self-talk and identify where changes are needed.
What you can do...
Identify your Self-Talk Traps
Some situations may cause us to indulge in more negative self-talk than others. For example, an introvert might find negative self-talk crops up when they have to attend social events or networking.
Perhaps you hear it when you are with certain people – because they do it or because of how they make you feel?
Identifying these traps can help you put in more preparation to address and switch your negative to positive self-talk.
Positive affirmations are a great way to switch up our self-talk chatter. Before a situation even arises that might incite negative self-talk, practice saying positive affirmations in the mirror to encourage your positive approach to yourself.
Visual cues are also excellent reminders to adopt a more positive approach. Little notes, posters or post-its around the house with positive expressions can make a huge difference to your daily mindset.
Check-In with how you are feeling
Switching to positive self-talk takes effort. We’re so attuned to negative self-talk that it might only take one or two minor setbacks to put you back down that path.
When challenges do arise, make sure you check in with how you’re feeling and that your self-talk hasn’t gotten negative. Bring it back with some positive phrases.
Replace or Reframe
The easiest way to erase certain words from your inner dialogue is to replace them with others. But you’ve got to shift the frame you see them in your mid with
Moving forward, practice replacing:
- “I can’t” with I could try, I can “I will.”
- “I have to” with “I want to.” Or I’ get to
- “I should” with “I choose to” (this opens the door to say “no” to external expectations).
Try this exercise with a friend or colleague. List all the things you “have to do”—one-at-a-time—and let the person reframe it by replacing “have to” with “want to.”
It might not seem like much, but self-talk is a huge part of our self-esteem and confidence. By working on replacing negative self-talk with more positive self-talk, you’re more likely to feel in control of stuff that’s going on in your life and to achieve your goals
For more positivity and challenging of your self talk, come join The Successful Ladies Escape Lounge, my free Facebook community, a safe space for women who want ‘more’ in life