What you say to yourself is very important, as you most likely have a running dialogue in your head throughout the day. The things you say to yourself impacts your beliefs, behavior, and self-concept. If your self-talk is mostly negative and the focus is on everything that’s wrong, feelings of anxiety and depression can increase. You might develop a pessimistic outlook and you could suffer from low self-esteem. However, when your self talk is positive, the opposite is true. When you practice positive self-talk, your general outlook becomes more optimistic. Engaging in positive self-talk can be very beneficial as it can improve your mental health, and enhance your performance and your relationships. 

What Is Self-Talk

Self-talk refers to the inner dialogue going on in your head. It is the things that you say to yourself on a daily basis. This can include instructions and tasks as well as reminders. Self-talk also includes the conscious and unconscious beliefs you hold about yourself. These beliefs influence what you say to yourself, which can impact your behavior. Self-talk can be either positive or negative and is something most of us engage in quite often. Your inner dialogue is very important as it has a major impact on your beliefs, behaviors, and emotional well-being.

Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is a dialogue you have with yourself about the ways you don’t measure up and aren’t good enough. It is your inner bully that has no problem pointing out your flaws and shortcomings. When you engage in negative self-talk, you focus on bad experiences and the ways things went wrong. You may say things like, I can’t do anything right, or, I’m such a failure. While you may think that your negative self-talk is motivating, it is actually limiting. If someone is constantly telling you that you are not good enough and you will never amount to anything, eventually you start believing it. When this is your inner dialogue and what you expect from yourself, it can influence your behavior and become something you live up to.

Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is the opposite of negative self-talk. It is not simply about expressing only the good or pretending that everything is okay. It is about assessing the situation in order to make improvements rather than believing you are the problem. Instead of focusing on the ways things went wrong and making it about your personal shortcomings, it is about focusing on what can be done differently. With positive self-talk, you can still own your mistakes without identifying yourself as a mistake. You might say things like, I can do better next time, or, I can learn from this. Engaging in positive self-talk requires you to give yourself grace, understanding, and compassion. It enables you to make productive changes and move forward. 

How To Change Negative Self-Talk Into Positive Self-Talk

If you notice that your self-talk is negative, there are some ways you can change it. Pay attention to your self-talk and write down the things you say. Find other ways you can say it that are accurate, but also kind. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend or a young child, don’t say it to yourself. Notice what is going on around you when you are being unkind to yourself. Practice thought stopping techniques and reframe the negative self-talk into something more positive. When you reframe your self-talk, focus on the situation at hand and what happened, not your individual character and perceived flaws. Pay attention to what you learned from it and what you might want to do differently in the future. Practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion. When you start engaging in more positive self-talk, you will begin to see the benefits of this.

Improves Mental Health

Engaging in positive self-talk can improve your outlook and your emotional well-being. Stress levels decrease when you use coping skills during challenging times. When you practice positive self-talk, you begin to view ways to alter problems and overcome obstacles instead of letting them overtake you. Seeing yourself in a more positive light, and not as the problem, enables you to see other things positively. This way the focus is on improvements and what is possible, not on the problems. When you engage in positive self-talk, you begin to change some of the negative core beliefs that can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. Switching to a more positive mindset keeps you from ruminating on past mistakes and your perceived shortcomings.

Improves Confidence And Performance

When your self-talk is mainly negative, you are more likely to doubt yourself and your abilities. Using positive self-talk can help your performance and improve your self-confidence. Your inner voice becomes your outer behavior. If you believe you can accomplish something well, you are more likely to achieve it. When you reinforce this belief with self-talk centered around reaching your goals, it is more likely to happen. With a pessimistic outlook, you may not even attempt to reach your goals as you don’t think you will succeed. If your self-talk is focused on what you do well and how you could improve, you can see the possibility of success.

Improves Relationships

Positive self-talk can benefit your relationships as well. When you focus on the positive with yourself, you are more likely to focus on the positives of others. Positive self-talk boosts self-confidence and enables you to have a more optimistic outlook. This can help you attract and keep others in your life. With negative self-talk, relationship problems can be emphasized and blown out of proportion. If there are problems in a relationship, you are likely to look for ways to improve this when your self-talk is more positive. When your self-talk is positive, you tend to feel better about yourself and your relationships.

Positive self-talk can be very beneficial. When you switch your focus to how you can improve, instead of the ways you are not good enough, your outlook becomes more hopeful. If you are having difficulty changing your negative self-talk, and it is impacting your well-being, therapy can help. When your self-talk becomes more positive, you can experience many positive benefits as well.

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