What is Positive Self-Talk and How to Practice It?
Self-talk is the way we speak to ourselves, otherwise known as our inner voice. We might not be aware that we’re doing it, but we almost certainly are. This inner voice includes our conscious thoughts, beliefs, and biases, and it creates an internal monologue that we listen to the whole day.
However, you may not realize how harmful your self-talk can be. This is especially true for people who tend to have negative thoughts. If you find that your self-talk is generally negative, then you may end up being stressed, having difficulties facing challenges, and liking life a little less.
This is where positive self-talk comes in, a very powerful tool that can change not just your outlook, but your well-being too.
What is Positive Self-Talk?
Simply put, positive-self talk is turning your inner monologue into a more positive one. It allows you to view yourself in a more positive light, which allows you to keep going despite difficulties, be more optimistic, and put things into perspective.
Benefits of Positive Self-Talk
There are many benefits to using positive self-talk. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Improves self-confidence
- Reduces stress
- Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Makes you feel more in control of your life
- Helps reduce chronic pain
- Allows you to solve problems and overcome obstacles
- Has a calming effect
- Helps build better relationships
- Greater life satisfaction
Examples of Positive Self-Talk
When thinking of examples of positive self-talk, it can help to start by turning negative thoughts into positive ones. Here is a list of common negative statements and how to turn them into more positive ones:
Negative: I’ve never done this new thing before, I’m sure I’ll be bad at it.
Positive: This is a great opportunity for me to learn how to do something new; maybe I’ll even be good at it!
Negative: There’s no way that this will work out.
Positive: There’s a 50-50 chance that this may or may not work out, so I’ll give it a shot. Hopefully it works out.
Negative: I’ll disappoint everyone if I change my mind and make a different decision.
Positive: My decisions are my own, and I have the power to change my mind. The right people will understand this.
Negative: I’ve failed and now I’m not good at anything and have embarrassed myself.
Positive: I tried, and while I might not have succeeded, my actions were brave.
Negative: I’m so out of shape and I hate my body. I shouldn’t even bother anymore.
Positive: I can take steps to make my body healthier and stronger.
How to Practice Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk can be helpful in your everyday life. Here are some exercises that you can do so that you can learn how to practice positive self-talk.
Exercise: Listen, Learn, Think It Through
The first step of this exercise is to listen. It may be helpful to keep a diary or a simple notebook where you can jot down your positive or negative self-talk — whatever comes to mind. After doing so, you can make a few observations. Perhaps your self-talk was more negative than you’d like it to be, and this is influenced by events, people, scenarios. Ask yourself questions, such as whether friends or loved ones would speak to you this way. Note down any other themes present in your self-talk.
The second step is to learn. After a week of keeping track of your self-talk, look back on what you’ve written. Ask yourself what thoughts come up and why you think they do so. How did your self-talk help you or hinder you from achieving your goals? Would things have changed if you practiced more positive self-talk?
The third step is to think it through. To move from negative to positive self-talk, it is essential to examine why those thoughts were there in the first place. You can also assess how true these thoughts are; perhaps they are just anxious thoughts coming from a place of fear. It is helpful to ask yourself whether your thoughts are based on facts and what you know or the opinions of others.
Create a positive affirmations mood board
If you’re new to consciously practicing positive self-talk, then it might be easier to represent this through something more visual. A mood board is an excellent visual representation to remind you of the positive affirmations and self-talk you can use.
Gather a selection of old magazines, newspapers, and old books that you can cut up. Get pens, pencils, scissors, glue, and a pinboard or a large piece of sturdy cardboard you can pin your affirmations to.
Choose the words, phrases, and images that you feel best represent the positive emotions, experiences, and goals that you have. Cut them out and arrange them on your board in whatever fashion you feel is most appealing for you. Use the pens and pencils to write out anything positive that comes to mind as well.
Once done, keep the board somewhere where you can see it as a daily reminder. Soon, you’ll be able to incorporate what’s on the board to your daily positive self-talk.
It can be easy to get stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk, and it can sometimes feel impossible to figure out where they’re coming from. Perhaps you might even start to feel anxious, in which case it would be necessary to practice self-talk for anxiety.
To practice positive talking, we can challenge these assumptions by asking ourselves several questions about the accuracy of negative thoughts.
Try asking yourself the following the next time you’re caught in a spiral of negative thoughts:
- How accurate are my thoughts and beliefs?
- Where is it coming from?
- Is my thought or belief based on fact or merely opinion?
- Why do I believe these thoughts or beliefs?
You can then follow this by reflecting and listing all the instances that have gone against your negative self-talk statements. Using a notebook, write down the following:
- Every time someone has appreciated you
- Every time you have succeeded at something, no matter how small
- Every time you have felt confident about yourself
This process helps you create a more accurate idea of who you really are rather than believing all the negative self-talk. Use positive self-talk to build a balanced and realistic version of yourself.
How to Implement Positive Self-Talk in Your Day-to-Day
Implementing positive self-talk in your daily life can be a bit challenging, especially if you’re used to negative self-talk. These tips will help you practice this skill every day.
Identify negative self-talk traps
Identifying when you’re falling into a negative self-talk trap is essential to starting positive self-talk. Pinpoint which of the four categories your negative self-talk falls into:
- Personalizing - you blame yourself when things go wrong
- Polarizing - all or nothing thinking that only sees black and white situations
- Magnifying - only focusing on the negative of every scenario
- Catastrophizing - always expecting the worst out of every situation
This is not a skill that you can build overnight, but with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to catch yourself and change the negative self-talk.
Do a regular check-in with your feelings
Make it a habit to pause during bad days and evaluate your self-talk. Is it becoming more negative than it should be? What skills have you learned so you can turn this around?
Add a bit of humor
Sometimes all it takes to get rid of negative self-talk is laughter. Find positive experiences that will make you laugh so that you can feel better about yourself, your situation, and everything around you.
Be around positive people
Being around negative people can actually help your negative self-talk snowball. Why? Because they love doing negative self-talk too! It is easy to absorb the outlook and emotions of others, so be sure you surround yourself with positive people who practice positive self-talk.
The Bottom Line
Positive self-talk is the first step to linking us to positive outcomes. It won’t guarantee that you’ll all of a sudden be able to do everything that was difficult in the past, but it can give you the right mindset to tackle those challenges. Coupled with motivational self-talk, positive self-talk can definitely get you places.
If you’re struggling with too much negative self-talk, however, we recommend consulting a professional that can help you look at the more positive side of things.