How to create a better internal dialogue!
What is positive self-talk?
We all have an internal dialogue that we often keep to ourselves. The words we say to ourselves, even if just in our minds, are often the words we live by. Positive self-talk is when the internal messages we continue to tell our brains are beneficial for our well-being.
If our mental clutter is positive, it will encourage and motivate us to achieve the goals and desires we want. It’s positive self-talk that often determines if we continue moving forward and push through our fears. If the internal messages are negative, our brain believes these messages about ourselves and this is reflected in the way we treat ourselves.
So how do you know if your self-talk is positive or negative? Pretend you are at a party and having a great time. You are with friends and have just been introduced to a new group of people you would love to be friends with. You decide to share a joke with these people but when you finish telling the joke – there is crickets…nothing. Nobody laughs and instantly you can feel the awkwardness in the room. What do you tell yourself about this incident? What are your internal words, your self-talk about how the situation played out?
- Negative self-talk. “I’m such an idiot”. “I wish I said nothing. I looked like a fool”. “They will never like me now”. If this is how you often respond to this type of situation you may start to question yourself whenever you are in a social setting. With negative self-talk like this, it can create a fear of being embarrassed when out socially so you hold back and never put yourself forward. This type of self-talk tells the brain to be anxious when out socially and to not believe you are capable.
- Positive self-talk. “LOL well, that was a flop”. “I can’t believe no one thought my joke was funny – I must have a different sense of humour“. No big deal”. These types of responses send the message to the brain that you made a mistake or experienced an embarrassing situation but that is OK – and you will be OK too. Positive messages like these teach you that no matter what happens, you will always have your own back or will always back yourself.
Recognise your own self-talk!!
The first step to change any internal messages you are sending to your brain is to recognise what these messages are. For many people, negative self-talk is the default mode they use whenever anything doesn’t go their way. It is their natural response to put themselves down and punish themselves by negative internal messages. Positive self-talk takes more work and can be challenging, especially when you have made a mistake but these are the times when it is needed the most.
When you can recognise the type of self-talk you use on autopilot you can begin to change it – and don’t put yourself down if your natural internal messaging in negative. Listen out for words such as ‘I can’t” or “I’m not” or “It’s too hard” or any form of blaming words.
Get out of your story!!
The next step is to get out of your story. We tell ourselves stories every single day, this is how we perceive the world we live in. Some people will tell the story only focusing on what went wrong or what they didn’t achieve – in other words, all the negative stuff. Some people tell the same story but focus on all the things that went right or the stuff they did achieve. When you are ready to move into positive self-talk you need to get out of the old stories you have told yourself and retell the story using a new, positive lens. This takes practice but like anything you want to become good at, it is worth the time and patience.
Share a little gratitude!!
Another way to help remove negative self-talk and start to naturally use more positive self-talk is to become mindfully present and share gratitude. When we are grateful, we are focusing on what we have and losing focus on what we don’t have. Many people use gratitude diaries and write down 3 things they are grateful for every day. I have written about gratitude here. Science has shown that we can rewire our brain and being grateful is one way to do this. When a new pattern is formed in the brain, like becoming more grateful for everything we have and losing focus on what is missing, our brain starts to naturally only focus on the good stuff. It is being rewired to do this.
Another way to practice positive self-talk is read and say positive affirmations. Sometimes we just don’t know the words to say or we are struggling to move from negative internal clutter to a positive one, so reading positive words is a great way to do this. If you can read a positive affirmation for a month, you will slowly start to believe the words and believe in yourself.
I have created mindfulness cards that I share with my students and I will share 3 of them here with you today.
LOVE – I am comfortable with who I am & I will always have my own back.
- The more I love myself, the less I will care what others think of me.
- I may not be perfect, but I am perfectly me.
- Just in case I forgot to tell myself today: I will always matter, I am loved, I am worthy, I am enough.
- What I think about me is the only opinion that matters.
COURAGE – Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.
- I am amazing because I have the courage to believe in myself.
- I will not judge my mistakes, I will learn to do it better next time.
- Just in case I forget to tell myself today: I have strength. I have courage. I have wisdom because I believe in me.
- Courage means I have my own back.
FRIENDSHIP – A friend is someone who helps you when you’re down and sits beside you and listens.
- True friends accept you for all that you are & help you become all you want to be.
- I can be a good person with a kind heart & still say no.
- Just in case I forget to tell myself today: I am kind. I am loving. I am trustworthy.
- I am a good friend every day, not just when it’s convenient.
How is your self-talk?