Are you your best cheerleader and encourager? Or are you like most people, and have a critic dominating your inner dialogue? Your thoughts create and shape your feelings and mood. Thus, the way you talk to yourself has far reaching consequences. It can impact your self-esteem, your attitude and how much you’re able to achieve during your day. Additionally, it can determine your goals, your job trajectory and how successfully you relate to others. Therefore, there’s no doubt that positive self-talk leads to a better life!
Here are a few simple ways to transform your negative thoughts and adjust your inner monologue for the better.
What is Self-Talk?
Self-talk is something we all do. It comes naturally and occurs throughout our day. It’s that little voice that pops into your head with an opinion that essentially rates your performance. Studies at the University of Thessaly, by Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, illustrate the importance of how we talk to ourselves. Their research shows that those with a positive and encouraging inner dialogue, are more confident, motivated and productive.
Positive self-talk comes more naturally to some than others. However, the good news is that it can be nurtured and developed.
5 Ways to Develop a Positive Inner Monologue
1. Listen and Learn
Take a few days and note how, as well as what, you say to yourself. In examining your self-talk, you want to discover if you are tending towards being more critical or kind. As well as establish how empathetic you are towards yourself. A good test is to ask yourself if you would say the same things to a friend. Often, you will find that you wouldn’t dare. Which then begs the question, should you be saying these things to yourself?
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. By doing this, you are taking the first step towards change.
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’s important that you refer to yourself in the third person. Therefore, instead of using ‘I’ or ‘me’ rather use ‘he’ or ‘she’ or, even better, call yourself by your name.
It may seem strange to be talking to yourself in the third person when you start off. However, Ethan Kross, Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan has a good reason why you should keep at it. He explains that the language we use, helps us to gain distance from our experiences. And in doing this, we are able to have a better perspective on things when we reflect on our lives. Another reason to change the language you use is it will make you more conscious of your inner dialogue’s rhetoric. Which means that you are less likely to tell yourself the things that you wouldn’t say to a friend.
3. Name the Problem
Brené Brown, Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College and popular motivational speaker, refers to the negative voices in her head as gremlins. She says that doing likewise, by naming your inner critic, you can distance yourself from it. After doing this you should be able to think more objectively about your emotions. Therefore, enabling yourself to respond more rationally to your inner critic and thereby react better to what you face.
4. 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. Despite this, research shows that they really do work.
Your subconscious mind doesn’t differentiate between positive and negative. This means that it takes whatever you say to yourself as fact. Thus, through the repetition of positive affirmations, you slowly pave new pathways into your subconscious. Thereby, opening yourself up to new and more positive ways of thinking. This concept aligns with research on neuroplasticity and our ability to rewire our brains for happiness.
One of the essential ingredients when using positive affirmations, 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. Then be sure to proclaim your awesomeness at least once a day.
5. Stay in the Moment
It’s easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of worry and panic. And in doing this you will start to doubt your ability to succeed. This is made worse by our action list of endless things we need to do, and often not getting through. All of which compound our anxiety and fears. Which leads us into a self-defeating cycle as we then talk increasingly more negatively to ourselves.
How do you do this? How do you stay in the moment? The first step is to stop the cycle when you realise what’s happening and slow down your thoughts. Pause what you are thinking about and doing. Then consciously refocus on the now. We all know that we have no control of the future. And if we are honest with ourselves, half the things we worry about never really happen. By asking yourself, “What can I do right now?” you transform your negative self-talk. Instead of hearing an inner critic that’s riddled with anxiety, you’ll become more focused. In doing this, you will be able to believe that things are manageable.
If you struggle to live in the moment, it might be worth exploring mindfulness and how it can help you. Ruby Wax, author of Sane New World: Taming the Mind, explains that mindfulness is not about emptying your mind. This is because you actually need your mind to be mindful. Your mind is what enables you to analyse, memorise, create and exist. At its essence, what mindfulness involves is learning to live in healthy harmony with your inner voice. Thus, learning how to temper and direct your inner dialogue, so that it helps you rather than works against you.
Positive Self-Talk is a Journey
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 changing a habit takes time. But, keep at it. The rewards are plentiful and well worth it. In time you will see that positive self-talk does indeed lead to an all-round better life.
Learning More About Self-Talk
You can learn more about self-talk and how to assist someone in magnifying their positive inner dialogue, by studying at SACAP. A number of courses are on offer through the Applied Psychology faculty. All of which can be used as a springboard for pursuing a rewarding career of helping people improve their lives. For more information, enquire now or enrol online today.