Be careful what you say about yourself because someone very important is listening. YOU.John Assaraf
Last week I wrote an article on why it is important to stop being so hard on yourself. I really hope that helped you a bit, because here is some more on a related topic: positive self-talk. I am all about self-care, loving yourself and being kind to yourself, and this is a natural extension of that.
Positive self-talk is a crucial part of loving yourself, and should really have an important place in your life. While it seems so minimal, it truly makes all the difference.
Like the quote says, you are always paying attention to your thoughts. And our brains remember every little piece of information we give them, right? So your brain remembers all the times you have talked down to yourself, said you were an idiot, didn’t look good that day. It remembers everything.
Then it’s only natural for the brain to draw conclusions from all that information. And with the lack of evidence to tell it otherwise, this must be the truth.
You are talking yourself into believing you are an idiot that doesn’t look good.
It can be different.
Because what if you started telling yourself you are smart, kind, and beautiful? If you tell yourself that often enough, your brain will start to change its belief system into thinking you are a great person.
It really is that simple.
But at the same time, it is not. Changing this thinking takes hard work, and is not a quick fix. So today I wanted to elaborate a bit on the importance of positive self-talk, tell you why exactly it is so important, and how you can do it.
What is positive self-talk?
Positive self-talk is pretty self-explanatory on the top-level. It is the act of talking positively to yourself. I’m sure you didn’t need me to explain that part to you.
Freud already came up with the idea of conscious and subconscious thoughts, and how these would affect our behaviour.
But what exactly does that mean? Do you have to be 100% positive, all of the time?
It also doesn’t mean you have to start lying to yourself and tell yourself you’re amazing and your life is perfect when you don’t believe that.
It is about believing the next positive thing, and focusing on positive things most of the time.
It’s about being compassionate and (you guessed it) kind to yourself.
Why you should be practicing positive self-talk
So now that we understand what exactly this positive self-talk is, let’s see why we should be doing this.
There is a large amount of research into positive (and negative) self-talk and its effects on our brains and our performance.
One research* suggests that we struggle more with anxiety and fear of failure if we engage more in negative self-talk. Another research* found that reducing negative self-talk helped children with an anxiety disorder.
So obviously, there are huge benefits from changing our negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
1. Reduce stress
Those who tend to think more positively also tend to have better coping mechanisms for ‘bad’ situations.
They are more solution-oriented, and therefore also solve the issue faster than negative thinkers. They see situations differently.
As you can probably also imagine, hearing that voice in your head telling you you’re an idiot every day doesn’t do much good for your mental state and calm. It’s much nicer to hear you are doing great.
2. Improve confidence
As said, negative self-talk was a contributing factor to fear of failure and anxiety. Naturally then, positive self-talk can help our confidence and self-esteem tremendously.
Positive thinkers are more likely to achieve goals, get good grades and even recover faster from surgery*.
As you start believing you can do the things you want, you’ll get better at achieving them, and figuring out solutions to any problems that may arise, as mentioned above. And achieving your goals will increase your confidence and self-esteem.
3. A better life
By seeing the world as a positive place, and yourself as a great person, slowly your life will improve.
As you believe you’re a better person you will start subconsciously start behaving better and start taking better care of yourself. As you believe you are worthy and capable you will be more willing to take a risk to get that amazing job or talk to a potential partner.
You will stop holding yourself back.
Teaching yourself a more positive outlook on life will really improve the quality of it.
4. Improved health
As I said before, people who engage in positive self-talk and positive thinking recover faster from surgery and have less stress.
As if that isn’t enough, a Yale research showed that a positive attitude about aging can help you live longer.
Finally, positive thinking is linked to reduced risk at heart disease due to the lower stress-levels.
How to get started with positive self-talk
I’m sure that by now I have convinced you that positive self-talk will definitely change your life for the better and make you a better person. It’s really amazing, don’t you think?
So what I’m guessing is that you’re thinking “that’s all great, but how do I do this?“
- First, you need to become aware of your negative thinking. Try to listen to that voice when you think, and see what it says. Is it more positive or more negative?
Notice how you speak to others. About yourself, the world and them. Is your tone of voice mostly positive or negative? How you see the world and others say a lot about how you see yourself as well. If you’re not sure, ask those around you. Being aware is the first step.
- Notice the things you say the most. What are your patterns? Write down the situation in which it occurs, and what exactly you’re saying to yourself. Then write down a better alternative.
- Now every time you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, say at least one positive thing as well. Preferably related to the thing you just said.
So when you make a mistake, maybe at first you think “oh I really screwed that up. I’m such an idiot.” From now on, try to change that to an “Okay, that didn’t work out as I had planned. Let’s (review and) try that again, maybe in a different way.”
- Instead of looking at the things you believe are “negative” about yourself, start hunting for positive things to say about yourself. Any part of your personality, your appearance or your behaviour that you think is nice, focus on that. Slowly, you’ll find more positive points to focus on.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Try to notice the people around you who lift you up or bring you down. Those who are positive and those who are negative. Try to spend more time with the positive ones, and less time with the negative ones. You might even start noticing that the more positive you become, the negative people start to annoy you. That’s okay, just let them be.
This is a topic that’s quite close to my heart, as I have really made a solid effort to think more positively and engage in more positive self-talk. It has made all the difference in how I feel and how I act in the world. I feel better and happier, and ‘bad’ situations aren’t such a big deal anymore. I strongly urge you to try this, even if you think you’re already a very positive thinking. With the impact this can make, there is always room for improvement.