Updated: Apr 26, 2020
The way you talk to yourself is crucial, because it has a significant impact on how you see not only yourself but also the world around you
What is Self-talk and Why we do it
Take a deep breath and observe what is going on in your mind. The first sentence you hear in your head is what we call our inner self-talk. You can define a self-talk as our internal dialogue that verbalizes our thoughts, ideas, emotions, and whatever goes inside our minds.
The reason why this inner voice exists is because it is our brain's natural way to interpret and express what our core beliefs are on a day to day basis. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, this inner voice never sleeps. It is making all the unconscious decisions and influencing our behaviors.
The Importance of Self-talk
The way you talk to yourself is crucial, because it has a significant impact on how you see not only yourself but also the world around you. A positive inner voice increases your joy and gives you the confidence to face your challenges. It motivates you and gives you the push to move forward.
On the other hand, negative self-talk does the exact opposite. While some internal self-criticism can be beneficial for us to avoid repeating the same failure and make the right decisions, too much negativity in our inner voice can be detrimental for our wellbeing and how we perceive the world. Most of the time, this negative self-talk is illogical, and it overtakes our thinking and makes our life harder than it needs to be.
In the society we live in today, we have to deal with a lot of unrealistic expectations, both internal and external. There are certain standards of success that everyone seems to be pursuing. While we can not control the unrealistic expectations our family, friends, colleagues and boss have for us, we can control the ones that we created for ourselves.
Action Step: Identify unrealistic expectations you have created for yourself and the negative self-talk that came out of them.
Examples of Negative Self Talk
I am over 30 years old and not yet married. All my friends are already settling with their families and living in their own houses. I have failed in life.
I am just a stay-at-home mom with no talents. I have nothing to offer to this world.
I am not as pretty as her, how did I become so unattractive?
No one understands what I am going through. There is absolutely no solution to my problems.
I have always failed in the past therefore I will always fail in the future.
Now, How Do I Overcome Negative Self-Talk?
The good news is that the majority of this self-talk has nothing to do with reality. It is a biased and flawed thinking that was formed by observing other people’s lives, past experiences and worries about the future. This negative self-talk has overtaken our minds and has made us incapable of living our best lives.
Let's have a look at some approaches that can help us transform our inner negativity into inner positivity.
Be Mindful and Observe Your Own Thinking
Observe the thoughts you have in your head now and describe how they affect your mood. Analyse whether your concerns are rational, logical, or even that important in the first place. When you analyze your thinking, you are able to put this thought into a bigger picture. With this, you have the power to decide whether these thoughts are helping you living your best life or the other way around.
Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers on a piece of paper:
1. Am I overreacting?
2. Am I too hard on myself?
3. Is there any accuracy or truths to my thinking?
4. If these concerns are necessary, what are the things I can do to avoid the worse case scenarios and what are the things I should let go because they are outside of my control?
Stepping back and observing yourself can help you see whether your concern is necessary for your life or whether you're going into an unnecessary downward spiral.
Be Kind to Yourself
Be kind, and don't be too hard on yourself. If you find yourself going back into an unnecessary downward spiral, It's OK. Create realistic and achievable goals. Start with challenging few of your inner critics and dissolving negative thoughts one day at a time. Even introduce some humor into your life and see how much this concern has taken away your joy. Live your best life as much as you can and remember to only focus on things that you can control.
Avoid comparisons with other people that seem to be more successful than where you are at right now. Comparison only brings us down and is never always accurate. The reason why comparison is a waste of time and energy is because we never know the big picture of what other people have been and are going through.
Understand that things take time, and if you are struggling, everything will get better with time. Practice and prioritize self-care, and you don't have to please everyone all the time.
Change Your Self-talk
You have to finally deal with your own negativity and self-limiting habits. Ask yourself these questions:
What are the great things about your personality that distinguish you from other people in the room?
What are your qualities and abilities that you are proud of?
What are your previous achievements, and what great things have you been already blessed with?
See what kind of small initial steps you can take to improve your current situation. Replace your "I can't do this" with "I definitely can, and I will not give up on it." Replacing your negative thoughts with positive self-beliefs will not only help you be more positive but also give you the confidence and perspective to move forward.
Books That Can Help You Improve Your Self-Talk
1. What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter 2. The Courage to be Happy : True Contentment is within Your Power by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
3. 365 Days of Positive Self-Talk by Shad Helmstetter
4. Switch On Your Brain : The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health by Dr. Caroline Leaf
We are our own best friends and our own worst enemies at the same time. And often, we suffer more in imagination than in reality. Negative self-talk is detrimental to not only our well being but also our personal and professional life as well. Fortunately, the majority of negative self-talk stems come from unrealistic and exaggerated thinking that can be unlearned and eliminated. The key lies in observing and correcting your own distorted thinking and replacing them with positive thoughts that increase your confidence and push you towards a better and fulfilling life.
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