Taming the Mental Chatter: How to Make Positive Self-Talk a Habit
“Talk to yourself the way you would someone you love” ~ Brené Brown
For most of our waking hours, we are engaged in incessant mental chatter. This internal monologue goes on and on, most of which is negative and self-condemning. Our thoughts are often tinged with guilt about our past or anxiety about the future, destroying any hope that we may otherwise have in achieving our dreams.
Such patterns of negative self-talk usually start in childhood, subsequently coloring our thinking for many years to come. These self-limiting thoughts can affect the way we experience life as our emotions and actions are inspired by the way we view ourselves, other people and the world around us. However, when we change the way we think by practicing positive self-talk, we set in motion the actions required to bring us the greater rewards we desire.
Here are some ways to rid yourself of the unhelpful, negative inner conversations, and how to replace them with thoughts that empower us, and give a to boost to your self-esteem!
Think about what you’re thinking about
You probably have no idea how many self-defeating things you say to yourself and how much doing so impacts your the way you approach life. By thinking about what you’re thinking about, you bring awareness to the gloomy nature of your self-talk, and conscious of how hard your are on yourself.
Challenging a long history of negative self-talk can be a daunting task but begins when you shine a light on the multitude of thoughts running through your head. Perhaps a parent or teacher told you that you’re lazy or stupid. As as an authority figure, you believed them, internalizing their statements as truth. When you constantly tell yourself these negative stories, your actions are going to reflect your low self-esteem.
Pay attention to positives
Dwelling on the negative seems to be ingrained in the human psyche. We are more inclined to mull over unpleasant events and have a tendency dismiss the happier ones. To have maintain an optimistic approach to life, pay attention to times when things go right, the little victories that we experience throughout the day, instead of magnifying the one thing that went awry. Of course, life has it’s challenges, but the good times are forged through the bad.
By choosing to fill your thoughts with positive words and images, we counterbalance the unhelpful beliefs. Try making this a conscious habit. Each time you notice your mind going astray, refocus your attention to the positives. When you think about the people or things you are grateful for in the present time, your self-talk will be in greater alignment with contentment and joy. Indeed, a state of gratitude works wonders on your mood!
Change your vocabulary
Have you ever noticed that when you’re at the hospital, the nurses refer to discomfort rather than pain? Words like “pain” are more provocative and can make your experience more distressing than if you use a work like “discomfort.” This strategy can be applied to everyday life. Try exchanging statements like “I am afraid,” for “I am concerned.” When you dial down emotionally charged language, you can change the overall tone of thoughts, reduce your stress, and increase your sense of wellbeing.
Self-defeating statements use words like “can’t” or “never.” Replacing these negative absolutes with more neutral and less definitive terms can actually help neutralize your experience. Instead of telling yourself, “I’ll never be in a happy relationship and will die alone,” try saying, “despite my unhappy past, I have learned what I like and dislike in a partner.” Such statements sound more hopeful and open up your mind to new possibilities.
Surround yourself with positive people
It’s important that you identify external factors that contribute to the negative thoughts that are holding you hostage. Your perspective can become skewed when you spend your time with friends or family who are condemning and pessimistic. If you are not careful, you'll find yourself accepting their thoughts and values as your own.
Be aware of what your negative influences are. Limit your exposure to negative friends as much as is reasonably possible. Refrain from sharing your aspirations with people who are unsupportive or judgmental. Instead, surround yourself with people who are optimistic and encouraging. Being around their positive energy will have a favorable impact on the way you talk to yourself.