It's usually pretty easy to see how your behavior toward others affects how your day goes. If you are kind to them, for example, they are often kind in return. Being kind to yourself, however, is just as important. Self-talk is the inner dialogue that feeds you messages about who you are as a person. How you think about yourself influences your perspective and motivation, and it can even have an effect on your success. Here are a few ways to make your self-talk more positive.
Identify Negative Self-Talk
You may not even realize how often negative thoughts seep into your mind. Over the course of a few weeks, pay attention to how you react to challenges or learning opportunities. Do you feel immediately discouraged when faced with an obstacle, or do you feel confident in your ability to handle it?
It may be helpful to jot down some of the negative thoughts that you have. This practice helps you notice patterns of self-talk. You may find that they occur more often when faced with certain challenges. If you feel discouraged frequently, it is likely that you engage in negative self-talk as a gut reaction to most changes. No matter how often you have these thoughts, identifying them is the first step to improving your outlook.
Turn Negative Thoughts Into Hopeful Questions
Just getting rid of negative thoughts isn't the end goal. You want to replace them with something that will help you move forward. A good way to get into this habit is to turn the discouraging self-talk into a question.
For example, if your boss asks you to complete a task and the deadline seems too soon, your first reaction may be, "There's no way I'll ever get that done in time. I'm a failure!" When you catch that thought, ask yourself, "What can I do to make sure I complete this assignment by the deadline?" This question implies that you will be successful and thus helps retrain your brain to adopt a more positive perspective.
Write Down Positive Mantras
Adopting positive self-talk isn't as easy as it seems like it should be, particularly if you aren't used to doing it. Writing down positive mantras and posting them where you will see them frequently can help you build the habit more quickly. The bathroom mirror, the front of the refrigerator and the dashboard of your car are great places to post encouraging messages to yourself. There are many different mantras you can choose:
- "I can reach my goals."
- "I am lovable."
- "I am worthy of care."
- "I have what it takes to succeed."
- "I am strong and competent."
Treat Yourself Like a Friend
Revising your inner monologue isn't going to happen overnight, and understanding that makes it easier to be gentle with yourself as you learn this new skill. It's common for people who don't think highly of themselves to feel dishonest when they engage in positive self-talk. One way to make sure the lessons stick is to treat yourself as you would a beloved friend.
When your friends encounter challenging situations, your gut reaction is probably not, "No, you aren't able to do that. You should just quit." You probably are quick to offer support and encouragement. During the early stages of reordering your self-talk, state your mantras in second person. As you look in the mirror, say things such as "You are capable and smart," just as you would if you were talking to someone you love. Soon, you may find that you genuinely feel more love for yourself.
How you think about yourself is just as important as how you treat yourself and others. Your thoughts can affect how you respond and behave, so cultivating positive self-talk is a great way to meet any challenges you face.