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Stop Being Your Worst Enemy: Change Negative Self Talk to Positive Self Talk

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how to change negative self talk to positiveSelf talk is what we say to ourselves throughout the course of the day, both out loud and in our heads.  Each and every one of us has an ongoing dialogue in our head that impacts our daily lives.  These words can take two forms – negative and positive.

Negative Self Talk

Negative self talk affects us in many ways.  It can lead to depression, stagnation, self pity, and many other negative influences.   All of these combined lead us to not live our best possible life.  Some examples of Negative self talk are:

“I am fat”

“I don’t have the smarts to be promoted”

“Money is not my strong suit”

“Everyone else is better at it than I am”

When we repeat a negative statement over and over again we begin to believe it – even if it is nowhere close to the truth.  When we say “I am not good enough” we may let it affect us by not taking steps to achieve a goal that we are qualified to do.  For example, you may not apply for a promotion that you qualify for because you have already convinced yourself you are not good enough.

Eventually you will begin to dislike your job, your company and yourself because you will not allow yourself to grow.  This becomes like a snowball and affects other areas of our life.  Your negative self talk about the job then carries to other things related to yourself such as exercise and your money.  Changing to positive statements makes our lives better, and assists us in moving forward to achieve our goals.

Positive Self Talk

Positive self talk on the other hand can lead a person to live the best life that they can.  If instead of saying you are not good enough you say “I can do this”.  Not only will you achieve your goals, but you will be happier and healthier.  Positive self talk gives you a permanent cheerleader in your corner!  One that carries positive messages to all areas of your life and helps you move forward.  Other examples include:

“I love and honor my body”

“I am good at my job and have the skills necessary to move forward”

“I am a quick learner and can tackle new areas”

“I am wonderful”

Source of Self Talk

How do we form our self talk?  The way we talk to ourselves comes from our beliefs.  Beliefs form our opinions about our world and ourselves.  Our beliefs originate from the way our parents raised us and what they communicated to us plus additional life experiences.  If we grew up being told we were shy and that shy is bad, we will believe that and turn that belief into a negative self talk.  For example, you may tell yourself you are a bad public speaker because you are shy.  So you proceed to tell yourself “I cannot do this”, and then may prevent yourself from reaching your full potential by not engaging in situations that require you to speak in public or even just to smaller groups in your daily life.

These beliefs can also come from life experiences.  Say you had a boyfriend who consistently told you that you were fat.  You would begin to internalize that and make it real for you and then proceed to repeat that to yourself, even if that were completely untrue.

So How do You Change from Negative to Positive Self Talk?

Changing from negative to positive self talk is more than just reworking your words.  It requires acknowledgement that you are even engaging in self talk, adjusting our beliefs and then reshaping the way we talk to ourselves.

Step 1. You must first determine when you are engaging in self talk.  You can do this many ways, but here are a few that might help.

  • Slow down your day and pay attention to what you say to yourself.  We tend to be so busy that we don’t have the time to listen to what we are doing and watch how it affects us.  When we slow down to allow ourselves space to observe we can often move forward faster in the future because we know what is driving us.  This is especially important when working on a big decision or area in your life.  For example when doing your monthly budget take the time to notice what you are telling yourself as you do the budget.  If you write down a savings goal of $1,000 and you immediately say “yah right” stop and write that down so you know that you are jeopardizing that possibility.
  • Monitor your body’s reaction to different situations.  Tensing up may be an indication that you are telling yourself something different than you are acting on.
  • Journal, this is good for after the event has happened.  Get on to paper what was going through your head as you encountered a particular situation.  For example, perhaps you did not honor your own boundary during an encounter with your mother.   Begin a journal page on analyzing what you were saying to yourself while you were allowing this to happen.  It can also be done in conjunction with the above two discovery ideas to get to the core of what the self talk was.

Step 2. Once we determine what our self talk is saying we need to adjust the beliefs behind the statement.  We cannot believe our new positive statements if we have not changed the underlying belief or beliefs.  This will involve digging deep into our beliefs, how they came about, how they are affecting us and are they really true.  Finally reshaping the belief to fit our reality today.  So for our example of your parents telling you that you are shy, you need to acknowledge that they came from childhood, grasp the full scope of how they are affecting us and then make a determination for ourselves on whether shy is bad or not.  Shy may for you be good because otherwise you have a tendency to jump into situations too quickly.  Then we need to reshape that belief to shy is a good slow down mechanism for us.

Many beliefs we may not even realize that we have, or may even come in layers of beliefs.  There are some different tools that we can use to fully understand what is behind the negative talk.

  • Journal – as I said before this is a great way to allow ourselves the ability to explore deeper than we would just talking.
  • Talk to a coach or counselor – often times it helps to see the situation from another perspective.
  • Meditate – guided meditation is especially good for uncovering the belief behind the statement and to find hidden beliefs.

Step 3. After you know what you are saying and why you are saying that, you can begin to reshape the way you talk to yourself.

  • Begin with one of your statements and alter it to a positive statement.  “I am fat” may become “I love and care about my body”.
  • Make it a habit of saying the new statement repeatedly with enthusiasm and conviction.  In the beginning it may require setting aside time to let that statement sink in.
  • When you catch yourself saying a negative statement, stop and ask yourself if you would talk to a friend or loved one like that?  Many times we are meaner to ourselves than we would ever dream of being to a friend.  Then rephrase the statement to a positive one.

While adjusting our self talk, you may need to return to the previous steps to continue to work on changing the beliefs that are behind the talk and discovering new negative talks to work on.

Eventually you will surround yourself with positive thoughts and that will create an environment that will allow you to live your best possible life.

For more on how to change your money beliefs: Change your money beliefs

1 comment
John Farley says January 15, 2014

This is really good! I need to practice this more in my life.

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