Anna Hart, Wellbeing Sub Editor
Anna Hart discusses how talking to yourself in a positive way can have a powerful impact on your wellbeing.
The way you talk to yourself has a profound impact on how you feel, your self-image and your perspective on life. One of the key things that helped me build my confidence back up after some really tough times in life was recognising, and making a conscious effort to change, the way I talked to myself. I was first introduced to the concept of self-talk by the immensely helpful and ever amazing Kati Morton, who has YouTube channel all about mental health. As she is a therapist herself, her videos are unique in that she can provide expert insight into issues and provide practical tips on how to work to resolve them. She often talks about the importance of how we talk to ourselves and how much this can affect our emotional wellbeing.
It seems strange to me now that I had never previously been fully aware of my self-talk. I was aware I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and pushing myself to an unhealthy extent to achieve the best I could, but I didn’t realise how self-destructive this was or that I had any power to change my inner dialogue. I realised I was being my own worst enemy, rather than my own best friend. Think about it, you are the only person that will be there with you from the moment of your birth to the moment of your death, so you might as well be a best friend to yourself!
I realised I was being my own worst enemy, rather than my own best friend.
Kati Morton talks about how the first step in changing your self-talk to a more helpful, positive dialogue is to notice what kind of conversations you’re having with yourself. We all engage in these conversations from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep; we’re constantly talking to ourselves, even if we don’t realise it. If your inner voice is constantly belittling and insulting you, then no wonder you feel down. If you feed yourself negativity, you will undoubtedly feel negative. You would never go up to a friend and say 'you're ugly', 'you're worthless', 'you're stupid', 'you're weak', 'you're not good enough', 'you're a failure'. Yet, you may be saying these kind of things to yourself. The goal is to talk to yourself as you would talk to your best friend, or how your best friend would talk to you. Time to befriend your inner critic.
Stop saying things that make you feel powerless. Start saying things that make you feel powerful. You're always only one thought away from being on a positive track. Champions are masters of self-talk. #TheChampionsMind— Dr. Jim Afremow (@goldmedalmind) December 26, 2018
You would never go up to a friend and say 'you're ugly', 'you're worthless', 'you're stupid', 'you're weak', 'you're not good enough', 'you're a failure'. Yet, you may be saying these kind of things to yourself.
Changing a self-critical, anxious, doubting mindset to one of confidence, calmness and self-belief starts with countering these negative thoughts with positive ones, one at a time. It can seem overwhelming at first, becoming aware of how you talk to yourself and perhaps realising there’s a lot you want to change, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll get there. When you notice one of these thoughts, for example ‘you’re a failure’, combat it with a positive thought. It may be difficult at first to completely transform the thought; it might not be realistic to say to yourself ‘I am an amazing person and I am doing the best I can, which is all I can do and it is always good enough’, as you might not believe this. Start out by saying something like ‘I’m not a failure, I’m trying my best and that is enough’.
You might not even believe this at first but keep replacing the negative thought with this more positive one – even if you don’t believe it, just say it to yourself – and I promise you that you will begin to believe it in time. You will start to take on these positive beliefs as your truths. Then, gradually, you can start to build on it until you believe that you are that amazing person who is always good enough. You can write these down if you feel that will be helpful for you, perhaps with the negative thought on one side of the paper and the corresponding positive thought on the other side, or else just say it to yourself, either in your head or out loud – whatever works for you.
Now, This is not easy work. It requires patience, dedication and commitment to change. It will not always be straightforward and you may feel like giving up, but keep going. I can vouch for the fact that it’s always a work in progress. As Kati Morton says, ‘it’s a process, not perfection’. So remember, if you slip up sometimes, that’s okay; healing isn’t linear. Remember how far you’ve come along the way and keep believing in yourself. It requires time to foster change at this deep level, but transforming your relationship with yourself from one of dislike or lack of self-belief to one of confidence, understanding and love is a hundred per cent worth the effort.
Featured Image: Epigram / Bogomil Mihaylov
Has positive self-talk helped you? What do you say to yourself? comment below or get in touch.