Positive Self Talk And Negative Self Talk
What's all the hype about inner dialogue?

What's all the hype about positive self talk and negative self talk?

Your self talk replays frustrating conversations over and over. The inner voice says to you, "What did you say that to him for? You should have said [fill in the blank]."

Or maybe your self talk wonders, "If I had only said X, would he understand where I'm coming from? Why didn't I do that?"

Maybe the voice in your head is full of complaints. You think:

"Ugh, why am I the only one who cleans the house?"
"Am I invisible? How come my kids don't ever listen?"
"Oh, no, it snowed again! I hate shoveling the driveway."

Positive Self Talk and Negative Self talk is sometimes intrusive - it breaks through your concentration and distracts you from what you're supposed to be doing. Self talk can be repetitive. You might start thinking the same, obsessive thoughts over and over. Self talk can keep us awake at night. Do you ever lie there trying to fall asleep, but suddenly your inner voice starts piping up for attention?

Can Too Much Positive Self Talk Make You Overly Confident?

Does the topic of self talk interest you? You may have heard from psychology experts, or read in a few articles, that you should focus on changing the negative remarks that you make to yourself to positive ones.

Self help experts say that it's important to look on the bright side, notice the silver lining, and send a message of optimism to the people with whom you interact.

Positive self talk does have its place when it comes to feeling strong and capable in our own lives. However, you may wonder if all of this Pollyanna talk is getting out of hand. Isn't criticism useful at times?

Shouldn't we give ourselves permission to let off steam and air a grievance every now and then? Is it healthy to stifle all negative thoughts that enter our minds?

In thinking about self talk and the positive messages we send ourselves each day, we must set a realistic tone. Not every day is going to be rainbows and roses, and it's best to be honest about that.

One thing that self talk has a strong impact on is our own self confidence. So when we say things like "You go, girl! You got this!" we seem to become energized with purpose which can help us set and achieve goals.

However, it's also worth noting that there is a time to cheer ourselves on, and there is also a time to step back and take an objective look at our intentions and actions. Are they worthwhile and serving our best interests?

So in this way, at some point, the self-cheerleading self talk messages do eventually lose their oomph, and we might actually become immune to them if they lack depth or are simply too vague.

Your positive self talk and negative self talk influence you more than you realize in every area of your life and the lives of people  around you as well.

Perhaps a better method is to get specific with what we're good at. Consider how self talk can remind ourselves of our strengths and spur us on to a bigger goal or purpose. Self talk can be useful in accomplishing goals.

Your self talk can remind you, "Hey, you're not finished with this project. You know you want to get this done so that you can [show your boss, ace that course, etc.]"

Your self talk can say, "You're doing great with not having that cigarette. Keep the momentum going!"

Your self talk can remind you, "You're a great public speaker. Use this gift to advance your career."

Self talk influences our children, too. The positive messages we give to our children that eventually become their own self talk. It helps to infuse some substance into what we say to them.

It's great to tell our kids, "You're very smart!" and they in fact may grow up believing this to be true. But perhaps it's better to point out what AREAS the child excels in. Or, talk about examples where they persevered through a problem and emerged the victor.

It's these meaning-filled moments, and the time we take to communicate honestly about them, that shape the self talk which becomes our children's self esteem.

Read a different article about positive self talk and negative self talk.

6 Steps to Stifle Negative Self Talk and Accentuate Your Positive Self Talk

Do you often find yourself stuck in a never ending loop of negative self talk? Maybe you have this general sense of dissatisfaction with your life, but you've never really explored why or what needs to change. You could be keeping yourself stuck, with pessimistic self talk caught in a repeating cycle.

If you really want to change your habit of thinking negative things that hold you back from succeeding and being happy, then you can certainly do that. It's a gradual process to transform your thoughts, and break from self limitation.

But, just like any bad habit that you'd like to trade for a healthier practice, changing your self talk will take practice and patience.

If you put your mind to it then you really can ditch your negative self talk once and for all.

Step 1: Become aware of your negative self talk patterns. Do you pay attention to the things you tell yourself? You might start by jotting down a brief journal entry. What negative thought did you have, when and in response to what? Was that cutting remark toward you really necessary? If you aren't kind to yourself, you're essentially giving others permission to speak to you poorly as well.

Step 2: Look for hyperbole. Once you have a few examples of negative self talk written down, go back to your journal and examine what you wrote. Was the statement extremely limiting? For example, maybe as you were stuck in traffic, your negative self talk came up with "You're a terrible driver!" Ask yourself where this exaggerated, defeatist statement came from. You got yourself to work safely, didn't you? Take note of those moments when you tend to make dramatic, overblown statements to yourself and question the cause. Was it stress?

Step 3: Reconfigure the negative thought. Suppose you really did have a close call while driving in traffic on the way to work. This prompted you to call yourself a bad driver. But you lived through the incident, and you get to work safely every day. Instead of making a general negative assertion about yourself, consider what you did do right. What can you do next time to hopefully avoid something like this happening again? Can you take along some coffee to keep you more alert as you battle the morning rush hour traffic?

Step 4: Find the source of the remark. If you tend toward making sweeping negative generalizations about yourself like the example from steps 2 and 3, ask yourself if there's a person who is feeding into your own negative self talk. Is or was someone in your life in the habit of telling you that you do things wrong? Does this person routinely put you down? Maybe it's someone from your past who filled you with self doubt by saying negative things about you that weren't true.

Step 5: Eliminate the source. Suppose that you've pinpointed a person in your life who surrounds you with negativity. Unfortunately, people who suffer from low self esteem themselves tend to project these thoughts of inadequacy on those with whom they share close relationships. Does your mother, husband, sister or boss put you down each day? See if you can limit the time you spend with this person. Or... have you considered ending the relationship?

Step 6: Turn the negatives into positives. The final step in overcoming your tendency to dwell in negative self talk is to get into the habit of encouraging yourself. Is there someone you know who makes you feel good, who tells you they appreciate you? Take your cue from this person, and find ways to be encouraging and supportive of yourself when you can. If you do a good job, take a moment to deliver some private congratulations and a proverbial pat on the back. Seek out positive people who make you feel good about yourself. And if something goes wrong or you make a mistake, remember that no one is perfect. You tried your best, and that's what counts.

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  • National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


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