Do you often have an unrestrainable chatterbox in your head? Do you frequent experience controversial internal debates and struggle with decisions due to indomitable internal arguments? Don’t worry, this is absolutely normal, there is nothing strange in talking to oneself, it may help you clarify your thoughts and ideas, as long as you practice positive talking.
Thinking often starts with self-talk: an endless flow of silent thoughts that run through your head. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason and assist you in decision-making. On the other hand, negative self-talk rising from misconceptions, lack of information, fear or uncertainty limit your drives, motivation, and willpower. If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your attitude in life is most likely going to be pessimistic. Differently, those that are positive thinkers by nature tend to self-validate their actions and thoughts reaching for higher productivity and happiness compared to negative thinkers. Personality traits like being optimism or pessimism can affect many areas of your life, including work, social interactions, family, health, and well-being.
If you are a negative self-talker, you may not even be aware of it. Thinking the worst can have become part of your nature after years of practice and you probably do not realize how often you say negative things in your head. The way we talk to ourselves has a huge impact on the outcomes in our lives. Self-talk is not just mindless chatter. It has a way of creating your own reality and filters. When you create your own representations, you may bias the overall perception of the situation amplifying the negative aspects and ignoring the positive ones. Telling yourself you can do something can help to make it happen. Similarly, telling yourself you cannot do something can make that come true too. If you keep telling yourself that you cannot lose weight, you will find ways to sabotage your good intentions to prove you are right. When you keep repeating to yourself that it is impossible to find a new job, you might not even start looking for new opportunities, as you believe this is not possible. The more you talk down to yourself, you anticipate negative outcomes or see changes as catastrophic, the fewer opportunities you will creative to elaborate solutions and changes for the problems you face. The more you listen to your own self-criticism, the more you undermine your self-esteem and willpower.
When you engage in constructive self-talk, you enhance your self-confidence, you focus on the positive aspects of a situation, and you allow yourself to feel good about your successes, the person you are, and the experiences you have been through.
The first step toward change is to become more aware of the negative effect of dysfunctional inner dialogues. Next, you can start moving towards constructive self-talk by consciously deciding to talk to yourself in a more positive way and to look at yourself under a much brighter light. However, positive thinking does not mean that you live in denial and you ignore problems or unpleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach difficulties in a much more analytical and productive ways. You need to think that you have choices and alternatives in every circumstance and that the best is going to happen.
You can learn to turn negative thinking into positive thinking. The process is simple, and with a bit of practice, you will soon create new empowering habits. Here a few steps you can consider:
- Recognize the areas that need the change – If you want to become more optimistic and start engaging in more positive thinking, identify areas of your life where you usually think negatively. It could be your health, your job, or a relationship.
- Assess yourself – Throughout your day, take a few moments to evaluate what you are thinking and become aware of your unconscious mechanisms. Find a way to put a positive note on them.
- Be ironic – We tend to be over-concerned and to give excessive attention to situations that drain too much of our energy and are not so critical as we perceive them. Be objective about each situation that you perceive as negative. Ask yourself: “Is that really true?” “Is there another way to look at this situation?” “Is it possible that I am misinterpreting the situation?” Once you have been questioning yourself, seek the humorous and the positive aspect in every happening.
- Build your team – Surround yourself with positive people and make sure those in your life are supportive people that can give you helpful positive advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your dysfunctional self-talk and make you doubt your ability to move forward. Keep in mind that most of the time judgments from others are simply reflections of their own fears. Do not fell into the trap of being influenced by someone else negativity and limiting beliefs.
- Practice positive self-talk – Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.
- Distract yourself – The mind goes where our focus is. Overthinking reinforces the object of our fears and feed negative emotions. You can stop that loop of thought by focusing on something else. Engage in an activity that fully captures your attention.
- Look for benefits – Ask yourself which could be the positive aspect of the situation. I like to think that there is no failure in life, but all is a useful feedback that can teach us important lessons. How many times it occurred that with time you reassessed situations that seemed very stressful at the time you experienced them, and after sometimes you smiled reviewing your original emotions about the situation?
- Distance yourself. When you notice your negative inner dialogue occurring, address it like it would come from an opinionated third party. You might want to say: “Thanks for sharing,” or “It’s interesting you feel that way” and move on.