Applied Psychology

How to use positive self-talk to lead a better life

Aug 30, 2018

There is no doubt that positive self-talk leads to a better life. Here are a few simple ways to transform your negative thoughts and your life!

Key takeaways

  • Your thoughts create your feelings and mood.
  • Positive self-talk is vital to leading a positive life.
  • Positive self-talk comes more naturally to some than others, by using a few simple tricks it can be developed and nurtured.
  • Changing negative self-talk to positive takes time but is worth the effort.

How have you spoken to yourself today? Have you been encouraging and supportive or negative and critical? Has your inner dialogue been dominated by your inner critic, making you feel less than worthy or have you been your own personal cheerleader? Your thoughts create your feelings and mood. The way you talk to yourself can have either a positive or negative impact on your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself, which in turn influences your behaviour. Positive self-talk is vital to leading a positive life.

What is self-talk?

Self-talk is something that comes naturally to us and that we do throughout the day. Many studies, including recent experiments by Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, from the University of Thelassaly, illustrate that the way we talk to ourselves has a direct influence over our behaviour. Research shows that people with a positive and encouraging inner dialogue are more confident, motivated and productive. Positive self-talk comes more naturally to some than others, but it can be nurtured and developed. If you spend more time knocking yourself down that building yourself up, fear not here a few proven ways on how you can use positive self-talk to lead a better life.

1. Listen and learn

Gain some perspective and spend a few days examining your self-talk. Are you critical or kind? Are you showing yourself empathy? A good test is to ask yourself if you would say the very same things to a friend. You’ll find more often than not that you wouldn’t dare. In order to change your self-talk from negative to positive, it is vital to have a good grasp on just how negative you are. Write down the things that you frequently say to yourself. Identify patterns and recognise the impact they may have on your behaviour. After all, they say the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one. Take this first step, your confidence will thank you later!

2. Language matters

Studies have illustrated that it’s not only what you say to yourself, but also the language that you use. If you want to improve your positive self-talk it is vital that you refer to yourself in the third person, so instead of using ‘I’ or ‘me’ rather use ‘he’ or ‘she’ or, even better, call yourself by your name. Ethan Kross, professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan explains the reasoning behind using the third person when saying, “Language provides us with the tool to gain distance from our own experiences when we’re reflecting on our lives.”

When talking about her inner critic Brené Brown, professor at the University of Houston Graduate College and popular motivational speaker, refers to the negative voices in her head as gremlins. Naming these negative thoughts allows her to distance herself from them in order to think more objectively about her emotions and ultimately her response.

3. Positive Affirmations

Affirmations are positive statements of a desired outcome. They are usually to the point and realistic. Positive affirmations generally have a pretty cheesy reputation, but research shows that they really do work. Your subconscious mind doesn’t differentiate between positive and negative, meaning whatever you say to yourself it takes as fact. Through the repetition of positive affirmations, you slowly pave new pathways into your subconscious therefore opening yourself up to new ways of thinking. The essential ingredient when using positive affirmations however is that you repeat them aloud with feeling. Simply reading the words as if you’re reciting a list will have little or no impact. Place affirmations in spots where you will see them frequently, for example your bathroom mirror, and be sure to proclaim your awesomeness at least once day.

4. Stay in the moment

Often, we find ourselves daunted by the number of things we need to do. Our action lists overwhelm us leading to fear, anxiety and negative self-talk. Your thoughts get caught up in an endless cycle of worry and panic and soon you start to doubt your ability to succeed, sending negative messages to your subconscious. Stop! Focus on the now. We all know that we have no control of the future and, to be honest, half the things we worry about never actually happen. By asking yourself, “What can I do right now?” you transform your negative self-talk from one riddled with anxiety to one that is focussed and manageable. If you struggle to live in the moment, it might be worth exploring mindfulness and how it can help.

Silencing your inner critic and increasing positive self-talk is not going to happen overnight. Keep in mind that you have more than likely been pretty mean to yourself for a while and change takes time. Keep at it. The rewards are plentiful, and in time you will see that positive self-talk does indeed lead to a better life.

You can learn more about psychology – a broad topic that covers a range of interests, by studying at SACAP. A number of courses are on offer, which be can used as a springboard for pursuing a career in psychology, or in other areas, as the skills developed can be applied across a range of industries. For more information, enquire now.

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