Working on a classroom assignment, my friend looked over at me. He asked, “Did you ask me something?”
I peered back confused, “No, why?”
“I heard you saying something.”
“Oh, I was talking to myself.”
“You know people who talk to themselves are either geniuses or insane.”
I muttered without hesitation, “I still haven’t figured out which I am yet.”
I remember my friend Jon saying those words vividly back in grade school. I always had a habit of talking to myself. Even doing the simplest tasks, automatic thoughts spewed out of my mouth in an unfiltered mumble.
Although my response to Jon was a joke, there was substantial truth to his saying. Depending on one’s internal dialogue, one could coach themselves along to success or drive themselves mad.
Awareness. I still stand by one of my most important core values when it comes to counseling and self-care when it comes to self-talk. I highly emphasize the importance of awareness. With my clients who struggle with depression, anxiety, and low self esteem, I often ask them to record their thoughts in a journal, on a notepad, or on their phones for a few days. I ask them to write down the day, time, feeling, thought, and situation. It does not have to be more than a few words or phrases. My clients are shocked at the results and how often these thoughts occur.
It is also surprising how many of us are unaware of the damage our internal dialogue causes us. Lifting the curtain of self-deception can really open up one’s eyes. It allows us to be honest with ourselves at a surface level. Simply acknowledging the content and tone of our thoughts sometimes takes away the power.
Realistic Expectations. That little voice in our head has a huge impact on our day-to-day self-care. It is far from an easy task to constantly engage in positive self-talk too. On average, somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts crossed our minds each day or between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute. It is totally unrealistic to expect that every thought will possess positive content. Some of those thoughts will slip up from time to time, especially until you make positive self-talk a habit.
Also, when you do begin to re-frame your self-talk, try not to speak in absolute terms like never or always. Keep the tone of it positive, but realistic. Look at the facts and positive truths associated with the situation.
- I made a mistake, but I can overcome it.
- I am have the skills to complete this task.
- It sucks, but I can learn from it.
Treat yourself how you want to be treated. Imagine if you spoke to other people the way you talk to yourself, or imagine if someone else said those same things to you? Would you be okay with it? It does not make it okay to say these things to yourself just because you are the one saying it. Compliment yourself and keep your strengths in mind.
- I am capable.
- I know who I am and I am enough.
- I am a good person.
- I feel energetic and alive.
- I am confident.
- I always observe before reacting.
You are the source. I had a therapist who said to me at the end of every session, “Be kind to yourself.” It reminded me that I must make a conscious effort to change my self-talk. I was the source of the self-talk. Therefore, it was up to me if I wanted to continue taking the beating day in and day out. It was not too appealing to me to come out emotionally bruised due to my self-destructive nature. My choice were even reflected in my self-talk.
- I choose to be present in all that I do.
- I choose to think thoughts that serve me well.
- I choose to reach for a better feeling.
- My body is my vehicle in life; I choose to fill it with goodness.
- I feel energetic and alive.
- Each step is taking me to where I want to be.
The benefits of positive self-talk are immense. You feel more confident. You feel happier. When you make a mistake or take on life’s many challenges, you will feel more apt at taking it on and moving forward. People will want to be around you with the energy you radiate. You feel more grounded in reality. It is now a more positive reality that you internal dialogue creates.
Looking back, my buddy Jon had a good point. Over a decade later though, I still have not figured out which I am.
-The Caring Counselor
Anderson, B. (2014, February 17). 14 Mantras To Help You Build Positive Self-Talk. Retrieved August 25, 2018, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12637/14-mantras-to-help-you-build-positive-selftalk.html
The Power of Positive Self-Talk. (2016, May 16). Retrieved August 25, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-relationships/201605/the-power-positive-self-talk