Most people have an internal monologue, a voice inside that says all sorts of things we wouldn’t utter outside of the safety of our brains. And this self-talk, as it’s often referred to as, can actually play a profound role in our overall wellbeing. So, let’s look at the effects of positive and negative self-talk and what you can do to make sure all those internal thoughts aren’t wreaking havoc to our mental, emotional, and physical health.
We’ll start with negative self-talk. Now, before we get into it, I want to make a very important distinction. Just because self-talk calls you out a little bit doesn’t mean it’s negative. It’s important that we have somebody to keep us in check when we’re not putting our all into achieving our goals or when we’re not taking care of our bodies correctly; and sometimes the best person for that is ourselves. Wanting to better yourself isn’t a negative; it’s when those thoughts that are constructive turn destructive that problems can arise. For example, speaking to yourself in absolutes like “I always mess things up”, or “I’ll never be good at ____” Maybe there’s a little bit of “I shouldn’t go for that promotion, I’ll never get it”, or “They’ll always see you as a failure”. At this point you’ve taken all truth from the scenario and are basing your life decisions or judging them off of your own opinions which are largely influenced by your fears, and sometimes your past failures. That’s why negative self-talk is extremely toxic. It takes away your ability to see your potential, try anything new, or gain confidence in anything. It can give you a false opinion of what everyone around you may think about you, and truly paralyze you mentally. It can affect your relationships with others, often leaving you feeling alone or misunderstood. All of this emotional and mental stress can quickly lead to negative physical consequences too; from weight gain to high blood pressure and more. If negative self-talk is this powerful, let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum and see the power of positive self-talk.
Positive self-talk isn’t just affirmations and feel-good mantras. Yes, at times it is uplifting and encouraging. It may sound like “I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to” or “I am beautiful just the way I am”. However, sometimes positive self-talk may sound like “I’m going to ask for that promotion today because I know I bring more to the table” or “I’m going to sign up for that 5k because I am strong and I can finish it”. Positive self-talk doesn’t just help you to feel better emotionally, it also can change your outlook on life and open you up to opportunities you never would have went for before because you never thought they were possible. If you think positive you will likely do positive and if something happens and things don’t go your way you’re not devastated because there’s a positive outlook in the result. It’s about rewiring your brain to see the positive, to push yourself with a strong sense of purpose behind everything. It also helps to ease stress and the physical side effects of it; so it’s not just about the emotional and mental impact, but your physical health as well.
Now, your self-talk is likely wired to your personality. So, if you’re naturally an optimist then you likely have more positive self-talk than negative. If you’re naturally a pessimist, then you likely have more negative self-talk. That’s not to say it doesn’t cross over, but it’s important to know where it originates so you can adjust accordingly and start being more conscious of those thoughts and from where they come.
We are living in tumultuous times. There is so much uncertainty and division right now. If there’s one thing you need, it’s you in your own corner, fighting for you. So, what are a few ways you can turn your negative self-talk into positive self-talk?