5 Ways to Turn Negative Self Talk into Positive Self Talk

woman with bullhorn looking sad

5 Ways to Turn Negative Self Talk into Positive Self Talk

What is positive and negative self talk?

Self talk is the attitudes and actual words we use when our inner monologue narrates what we do. Positive self talk focuses on cheering ourselves on, boosting our self-worth, and praising ourselves with a good attitude. Negative self talk focuses on putting ourselves down, pointing out our faults and insecurities, and sabotaging our goals with a “lack” mindset.

Sometimes this inner critic helps us toward our goals, keeps us safe, and helps us create positive relationships with those around us. At other times, it can be our toughest critic, telling us we are unworthy or that our goals are unlikely to be met.

Negative self talk and depression

Positive self talk sounds easy enough, but often it isn’t. Negative messages creep in from places in our lives like media, overhearing conversations, or is a product of prior negative self talk.

When people engage in negative self talk, they often find themselves in a downward spiral that is difficult to get out of. For instance, a negative inner critic that says that you can’t reach goals sabotages, in some way, all areas of life.

This depression perpetuates the “lack” mindset, or the perspective that we don’t or won’t have enough. This could be enough of anything, including a healthy body that’s muscular, toned, and fit from physical fitness. Or it could be financial, social, or career-focused. This mindset can permeate any part of life. It’s a focus on something not being “enough,” as in good enough, smart enough, or thin enough.

The effects of negative self talk behaviors

The attitude with which people talk to themselves can change the course of a person’s actions as well. Inwardly, negative self talk can create feelings like fear, anxiety, guilt, or shame.

Here are some physical symptoms of negative self talk:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Increased stress levels
  • Gastrointestinal or digestive problems
  • General depression

Here are some examples of negative self talk, so you know what to look out for.

  • Assuming we know what other people are thinking without actual evidence.
  • Telling ourselves that the worst possible event will happen in the future.
  • Exaggerating our own flaws or focusing on the negative.
  • Guilt tripping about things we’ve done in the past or things that are not in our control.
  • Using words like “always” or “never.” This is an exaggeration and also makes a judgement about a situation without taking into account all the facts.

How to get to the solution: positive thinking!

Often, positive thinking is viewed as being too optimistic. Positive thinking doesn’t mean just thinking about puppies and rainbows. It means observing what thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and accepting them with an open heart. In this perspective, both good and bad feelings are okay!

Negative feelings be part of positive thinking? You betcha! Learning to fully accept yourself and also all of the variety of emotions that come with you is part of practicing positive thinking. Positive thinking focuses on the fact that feelings aren’t permanent, and they often change as situations change.

Reduce negative self talk by noticing when you’re being self critical. This is the easiest way to stop. When you realize what your mind is narrating, consider whether you would say the same thing to a good friend. If not, it’s probably negative self talk and you can let it go.

Noticing and adapting the type of words you use can be helpful as well. Labeling things as difficult or challenging can replace events labeled as bad or unbearable. The way we think about events influences the way we feel. Also, positive self talk reduces stress!

Use exercise as a way to incorporate more positive self talk in your daily life. Combine exercise with a positive attitude to practice self talk.

As always, with self talk, listen to your feelings and your body. Slowing down to hear what you needs are can help you create more opportunities for positive self talk by taking care of yourself. A coach can help you model these positive behaviors.

In addition, here are some tips from Diane Lang. She is a Positive Psychologist, Professor at Montclair State University, Author and Speaker:

 1) walking at a moderate to brisk pace 20-30 minutes a day is equal to one anxiety pill with no side effects

 2) 1,2,3 breathing (in for a count of three, hold for three then out for three) is also great to release anxiety. 

Find out more about Diane Lang at http://www.dlcounseling.com

Contact us today to get assistance with positive self talk and a customized fitness routine!


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