Improving Self-Talk

Defining Self-Talk

We often joke that talking to ourselves is weird or a sign of being “crazy”. But in reality, most of us have an ongoing monologue with ourselves all the time. This is something called self-talk.

Self-talk can be out loud or simply the monologue of thoughts within our mind. I am an external processor, so I often speak things I am thinking out loud to myself just to make sense of it, while others have an internal processing as they think through life.

I have heard people say this in a variety of ways, but I find it to be so true that our relationship with ourselves is the longest and most vital relationship we will have in our lives. Many people come in and out of our life, but we always belong to ourselves. Though this is true, we often treat and speak to ourselves with such disrespect and disregard. Many of us battle with negative and critical self-talk and it becomes simply a part of our everyday life. This is something I personally struggle with all the time.

The trouble with self-talk, which we can also think of as our thought life, is that it informs our actions. All of our actions and decisions begin with a thought or belief within ourselves. If our thoughts are mean, disrespectful, and demeaning towards ourselves, how is that informing our actions and our way of living? How is that impacting how we let other people treat us? As someone who has struggled with negative self-talk for most of my life, I have realized that it impacts my decisions, the treatment I accept from others, accomplishing my goals, and trusting my own judgment.

How Self-Talk Impacts Us

I want to break down some of the impacts of having positive and negative self-talk.

Impact Negative Self-Talk Can Have:

  • Lowers our self-esteem and our ability to see our worth
  • May become a barrier to accomplishing our goals
  • May keep us from taking risks or putting ourselves in positions of growth
  • Effects our mental health and can increase anxiety or depression (Psychology Today)
  • Can cause complications in our relationships
  • May cause use to need increased affirmation and validation from others

Impact Positive Self-Talk Can Have:

  • Allow us to see our strength and resilience
  • Calms the mind and allows us to build resilience
  • Allows us to have increased confidence in ourselves and our abilities
  • Encourages us to pursue our goals
  • Equips is to take chances and to bloom during seasons of growth
  • Promotes positive mental health
  • Equips us to be a healthy partner or friend in relationships
  • Helps us to self-soothe and increases our ability to self-assure and believe in ourselves
  • May allow us to love ourselves and others better

How to Improve our Self-Talk

There are a lot of strategies to improve our self-talk. No matter what strategy you use, it requires practice! Our brain adapts as we repeat the habit we are attempting to build and implement. The problem I often face is that I try to change four or more habits at once, then get overwhelmed and quit practicing all of them. I have found it to be better to choose one or two habits and really focus in on those for a period of time. Then once your brain and body have adapted to those, then adding in one or two more. No matter what be patient and kind with yourself! Here are some strategies you could try to help build positive self-talk:

  • Write out something kind about yourself and hang it up. Reread all the kind statements every day.
  • Journal about things you have done well or about stories that reflect your strength.
  • When noticing something negative you are thinking, correct yourself and think something strength-based and kind. For example, if thinking you are ugly, then correct yourself and think you are beautiful instead.
  • Tell yourself positive affirmations, such as, “you are strong and capable and will accomplish your goals today.”
  • When thinking of something negative about yourself or your story, think of an exception. For example, if I am thinking I am a failure, then challenge that thought and think of an exception of when that has not been true. When have you succeeded, accomplished a goal, or done something well?

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