Mental chatter or self-talk is something we naturally do all day long. We talk to ourselves, either silently or out loud, and often don’t even realize we are doing it. Evidence has shown that the conversations we have in our heads can have a big impact on our emotions, our view of ourselves, and our actions. People that use more positive self-talk are more likely to feel better about themselves and those that engage in negative self-talk are more likely to have negative self-image.
Positive self-talk is when you use affirming and supportive phrasing within your thoughts. In contrast, negative self-talk involves using judgmental and blaming phrasing in your thoughts. Take a moment to reflect on your inner dialogue: Are you critical of yourself? Are you supportive of yourself? Do you say things like, “I am doing the best I can” or like “Everyone must think I am stupid”?
Positive self-talk is not about tricking yourself into viewing everything as wonderful. Its likely impossible, and not productive, to always have a positive view. Instead, positive self-talk helps you to about see the whole truth, not just the negative aspects of any given situation. By using more positive self-talk, you are more likely to build confidence and self-esteem, feel more in control of events in your life, and achieve your goals.
Let’s say you had a job interview where you were nervous and you left feeling as though it didn’t go very well. You start thinking about everything that went wrong: “I really messed that up. I will never get a job, I am so stupid.” Positive self-talk kicks in once you notice your negative thoughts. You can counteract by asking yourself: “Am I being over critical of myself? Was it only good or only bad or somewhere in the middle? What did I do well? Can I really know what the interviewer was thinking? Is there any evidence that proves the interviewer was unhappy? Is there anything I can do to change what happened?” You can review the situation and conclude with a full picture of the interview: “I didn’t answer the first question as well as I would have liked but I like how I answered the second question.” And “This wasn’t my best interview, but I can’t change the past, would it be helpful to email the interviewer to clarify anything or make a better impression?”.
1) Start to notice your thoughts and listen to what you are saying to yourself.
2) Start to challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself questions like:
1. Am I being overly critical of myself?
2. What would I say to a friend in a similar situation? Or what would a friend say to me?
3. Am I overreacting?
4. Is it really only good or bad? Is there any middle ground?
5. Is this thought even true? Is there actual proof or evidence for what I am thinking?
6. Am I making any assumptions? Can I really know what other people are thinking or feeling?
7. Is there anything I can do to change this situation?
3) Start practicing re-framing your thoughts by using more positive words and phrasing.
Soon you will be on your way to thinking happier, better, and more productive thoughts!