Whether you realize it or not, there is a constant conversation going on inside your head. It is between the little voice inside your head and the conscious you, and that little voice never shuts up. We are always in a state of mental chatter, with the voice inside us understanding and explaining the events, people and world around us. This constant self-talk not only helps us to make sense of things, it can also define the way we react and determine our actions in the future. Positive self-talk will help us to take an optimistic view of ourselves and the world around us and motivate us to take positive action. By the same token, negative self-talk will cause us to blame ourselves for every negative situation and become afraid of taking any action at all.
Our actions are defined and inspired by our thoughts, even the ones we may not be consciously aware of at all times. A person who believes that she is strong and capable– and tells herself so– will be more likely to take decisive actions that have positive results. Because the results of her actions turned out well, it will prove that her self-talk was accurate and inspire more positive thinking. This creates a cycle of positive thinking followed by positive results followed by more positive thinking, and so on. The same type of cycle is formed by negative self-talk, and it is not always easy to break.
Some people are naturally prone to an optimistic viewpoint and have a positive voice inside their heads without any effort. However, many of us have to consciously make a point to improve the way we talk to ourselves. Negative self-talk can be caused by a number of different things. Perhaps your second-grade teacher told you that you were dumb and cannot do anything right. Or maybe your father left when you were young, causing you to feel guilty and inadequate. For many people, a slight form of pessimism is could have been determined at birth. However, none of these things mean that pessimism and negative self-talk needs to be a permanent condition. It is something we can learn and train ourselves to continue until it becomes our natural state of thinking.
In order to do so, we have to take some conscious steps. Our negative self-talk and worldviews will not change automatically or according to improved circumstances. Even if your life is wonderful, negative self-talk will constantly explain away the good things and keep you from appreciating what you have. In order to help you break the cycle and move more towards a constant state of positive self-talk, we developed this list of three relatively simple steps. While changing your thinking will take time and effort, the results are priceless. It is a proven fact that positive self-talk leads to positive thinking, which in turn leads to positive actions and results. If you are ready to take a brighter view of yourself and the world around, read on and follow these three steps to positive self-talk.
1. Be aware of your self-talk
The most common reason that people do not always talk to themselves in a positive way is that they are not even aware of the fact that they are talking to themselves. Self-talk is a constant stream of messages that we send to ourselves, even when we are not conscious of doing so. You should train yourself to be acutely intimate with the thoughts that run through your head.
One exercise to help you become more aware of these thoughts is by simply writing them down. Any time you notice a negative message in your mind, write it down and note any person or circumstance that is related to it.
2. Change your perspective
One of the main goals of positive self-talk is to give yourself a better perspective on yourself and the world around you. Now that you have written some of the negative messages that you tell yourself, find a way to counteract those messages with a positive version and write it down.
Instead of: “I never do anything right.”
Say: “I can learn from this mistake to become a better person.”
It is also to be aware of your self-talk when good things happen. People who lean towards the pessimistic end of the spectrum will naturally and unconsciously find ways to explain away the good things that they do or that happen to them.
Instead of: “She’s just saying she like the meal to be nice.”
Say: “I really am a good cook.”
3. Use positive affirmations
This is not always as easy as it sounds. Many of us feel silly using positive affirmations, but it is a crucial step in changing your self-talk. You may need to give yourself reminders of these by putting notes on your bathroom mirror, in your car or in your wallet. You will need to find positive affirmations that fit specifically to you, but you can start with a few generic ones like:
- I am strong and capable.
- I know who I am, and I am enough.
- I will be present in everything I do.
- I am confident.
- With time and effort, I can achieve my goals.
- Every step I take gets me closer to where I want to be.