Updated: Aug 28
Most of us go around with negative thoughts cluttering our brains. And that is why some form of practicing positive self-talk is so important. It’s the kryptonite of your self-critic’s comments.
What doesn’t make it any better is watching the news and tv, spending hours on social media, or reading diet cultured magazines. This can really easily leave us caught up in the world’s hate and even other people’s negative thinking. On top of our own! That’s the last thing we truly need.
Let’s talk in this story about what positive talk actually is, the benefits of speaking to yourself with kindness, and lastly, how you can distinguish between that negative self-talk and positive self-talk.
What is self-talk?
First of all, what in the world is self-talk in general?
Self-talk at its most basic level is the running dialogue inside our heads. That inner monologue consists of the thoughts we have about ourselves consciously and subconsciously. Self-talk can be listened to so that you can learn what your beliefs, thoughts, and ideas might be. Or if you have questions for yourself or others.
Self-talk is made up of negative and positive thoughts as well as an in-between of mixed thoughts. In most cases, this mishmash of thoughts can be confusing or elusive, which can sometimes feel like you’re being “crazy” or illogical.
Different people refer to these thoughts in different ways. I refer to them as feeling like someone has turned a radio in my head up loud and I can’t hear what I’m really trying to think. Sometimes I hit a clear channel and it might be a positivity channel or it’s a negative channel.
While that could feel disconcerting, this is is normal and you’re not alone! I promise.
What are the benefits of positive self-talk?
There are actually many benefits to self-talk, both positive and negative but right now we’re going to focus on the benefits of positive self-talk.
Some of these benefits are that you can actually use it to maintain a healthier immune system, reduce pain, and increase cardiovascular health. The most common one that is talked about though is that it improves your mental health and self-esteem. And yet still, even more, it can also increase vitality, reveal greater life satisfaction, reduce stress, increase your life span, and the benefits don’t even stop there.
Maintaining a positive mindset can truly help you to cope better with stress which can, in turn, provide many amazing results.
What is negative thinking?
The negative side of self-talk is a little darker. Rumination on those negative thoughts can deepen pre-existing mental illness or create mental health challenges where they were none previously.
Depression feeds on negative thoughts for breakfast. Anxiety cooks the breakfast in most cases. A lot of people deal with both because they work together almost seamlessly.
And constantly engaging in negative thoughts can lead to effects like chronic stress, poor mental health, low quality of life, pessimism, poor communication, and low self-esteem.
Here are four examples of negative thinking:
Magnifying — focusing on the worst parts of a situation
Polarizing — seeing actions and events as either black or white/good or bad
Catastrophizing — expecting the worst from a situation
Personalizing — blaming yourself when bad things happen
Look through those four types of negative thinking and try to identify what the radio in your head is squawking at you with. When you recognize what types (can be more than one) of negative thinking you are experiencing, you can then channel positive self-talk to aid you.
How to overcome negative self-talk?
Okay, so we now know what self-talk is. We know what positive self-talk is too. We’ve identified what kind of negative self-talk we’re engaging in. Now, we can finally talk about how to overcome that negative self-talk by utilizing positive self-talk.
I’m going to share with you some techniques that work for me over the past several years.
First and foremost though, I will say that when my negative thoughts show up, I meet them mentally with curiosity. I ask them why they’re here. I know it sounds ridiculous. But it allows me to then combat those thoughts with positive self-talk and disprove those negative thoughts.
Monitor your thought patterns. Do this by using the four kinds of negative thinking above to track your daily thoughts and call them out when you spot them.
Talk to yourself how you would talk to your best friend. We never speak as kindly to ourselves as we do to the people in our lives we care about. Start talking to yourself how you’d talk to others. If you spoke to a friend the way you speak to yourself they wouldn’t be your friend for very long. Let’s not lose you too!
Keep an eye on your stress levels. The quality of your thoughts and your stress go hand-in-hand. It’s extremely difficult to maintain positive self-talk when dealing with high levels of stress. It’s also difficult to manage your stress levels when you’re constantly being bombarded with negative self-talk.
Look on the bright side. This has to be the hardest one for me! And so I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s so important. If we look closely at the situation we’re in we can usually identify the negative and positive influences. And when you start to zero in and focus too much on the negative side, bring it back with positive self-talk to the positive side.
Challenge your thoughts. This is the best way to know if the thoughts you’re having a just negative talk or truly logical thoughts and concerns. One thing I always ask myself is, “What evidence do I have to back up what I’m thinking?” If there is no solid, concrete evidence to support my thoughts, then it’s time to change my mindset.
The power of our inner voice
I’m going to say this and it’s the most important part of this story:
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS.
You are in charge of the negative thoughts and the positive ones. This means that it’s up to you to incorporate positive thoughts into your daily life. This will ultimately set you up for success.
Some ways that you can make more positive self-talk a part of your everyday routine are to:
Listen to positive mindset podcasts.
Read books that pull you out of your mind into another topic or change your negative thoughts to positive ones.
Listen to music that fills your soul
Work alongside your inner critic to find ways to ignore it, interview it, challenge it.
Talk to yourself in the third person (weird, I know!). But the language you use to speak to yourself in the third person can feel like it’s coming from an outside source.
Set daily reminders, with positive messages that come up on your phone to tell you how amazing you are.
My last suggestion for challenging negative self-talk is also a plug for my newest project launching on Kickstarter on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022!
I am releasing a snarky, curse-worse-filled, anti-boring Affirmation Deck called the Positive Snark Affirmation Deck.
So my last suggestion is to use affirmation decks or cards that don’t rely on cliche, typical affirmations but instead speak on a more realistic, intuitive level.
The tag line is simply: Turn Sarcasm into F*cking Brilliant Positive Affirmations
I would 100% love it if you’d pledge and get your own deck of affirmation cards! And if not, just your support and sharing the Kickstarter on social media would be amazing!
You can find it here: https://bit.ly/3o2jkyk
*This blog post was originally published on Medium