Self talk is the conversation that we engage in with ourselves on a daily basis, even if we do it unconsciously. We might introspect on a previous incident or ponder over our reaction in a certain situation. It becomes crucial to check what kind of words and thoughts we are engaged in as our words can be nourishing or damaging for our minds.
We are living in a highly competitive world that is obsessed with perfectionism, a world where there is little room for error so very often we might find ourselves filled with negativity and stress due to the various challenges and struggles we face in our daily life which in turn has an impact on the dialogue we have with ourselves. We as human beings have a tendency to focus on our flaws and weaknesses which from an evolutionary perspective arises out of our primal innate survival instincts wherein our ancestors had to be vigilant to screen out any form of danger in their surroundings. Paying heed to the negatives in itself is not a problem but if the sole importance is given to our shortcomings and our strengths are undermined or sidelined then it has a negative impact on our self worth.
Research has shown that the majority of our self-talk is negative therefore, is working against us rather than for us (Helmstetter, 1982; Stranulis & Manning, 2002). These negative thoughts create feelings of anger, irritation, frustration, hopelessness and disappointment. When we constantly ruminate on those scenarios where we faltered then it robs us of our peace of mind and ends up making us feel miserable.
We need to consciously remind ourselves that our thoughts and words have a significant impact in the way we perceive ourselves. We are quick to criticize our foibles or make harsh judgments if we fall short of perfect. Self criticism in an optimum amount can push us to achieve our goals but an excessive amount can have a deleterious effect on our performance and our general emotional well-being.
Our self talk has the potential to change perspectives, attitudes and reactions in regard to one self, others and to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. According to the aforementioned research, we are in control of our self evaluation and can make it positive by consciously feeding our minds with encouraging, empowering self-talk.
HOW TO INCULCATE POSITIVE SELF TALK?
Identify nature of self talk– We must be careful of how we are talking to ourselves because we are listening and the way we talk to ourselves become our inner voice hence it is of utmost importance to evaluate whether we are engaging in self limiting thoughts when we talk to ourselves or is our self talk serving as a motivation booster. If we beat ourselves up over our mistakes and perpetually indulge in self defeating thoughts then it should be considered a red flag to slow down and assess our pattern of thinking.
Talk to yourself the way you would with a loved one– We are excellent at being there for our friends in times of crisis, offering support, be it in the form of affection, soothing touch or kind words but we forget to extend the same kindness to ourselves when we do not stack up to our/other’s expectations. If we spoke to our friends like we speak to ourselves, we might end up with none. So why is it that we forget to practice self-care?
Penning down negative self talk– When we write down our self criticisms then it’s clearly in front of us in black and white and we are able to take a step back, ponder over the direction that our self talk takes which helps us to rationalize our thoughts. If we do not express our anxiety producing thoughts then they tend to fester and build up which increases our level of stress.
Smile at your reflection and say positive statements– If our pattern of self talk has been belittling till now then it is time to counter the negative with positive. For example – If we say to ourselves that “I’ll never be able to do this”, we can counter that with positive thoughts like ‘I have been able to overcome obstacles in the past so I have the resources and capabilities to do so even now”. Apart from that, the technique of talking kindly and smiling at our reflection with positivity and love has been proven to aid in improving self-confidence
Let’s ensure that we are talking to ourselves in a way that is supportive, nurturing and loving. We need to make sure our worst enemy is not living between our own two ears. There are already enough nay-sayers out there, why join them? Hope these ideas will help you to deal with negative thoughts.