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Important tips for effective self-talk

Most of us are in constant mental chatter. We talk to ourselves all day long and, unfortunately, this self-talk can be negative and even detrimental. Often it is tainted with regret or guilt about our past or anxiety about our future. This negativity can destroy any seed of hope that we may otherwise have in striving for our dreams.

Our actions are inspired by our thoughts. If we can change the way we think, we can begin to change the actions we take. It is human nature to seek personal growth whether financially, emotionally, physically or spiritually. Practicing positive self-talk can help us set in motion actions that will bring us greater rewards.

The following are six steps to effective self-talk:

  1. Think about your thinking
    Do not passively allow negative thoughts to come. Say out loud or write down thoughts as close as you can to the moment they occur. Acknowledging them in this way slows them down and helps to stop them from passing unnoticed.
  2. Challenge negative beliefs
    Ask yourself questions about the veracity of the self-talk. Helpful questions can include: What evidence do I have (for or against) that this belief is based on my feelings or on facts? Who is the source of this information? Can I get the perspective of another person?
  3. "It's got to be believable"
    Begin to replace negative thoughts with a realistic, balanced and meaningful alternative. Many times a "positive" thought does not make a person feel better because it feels too general or empty, such as "it will all be okay." Balanced thoughts consist of a realistic and evidence-based view of the situation.
  4. Repeated practice
    For many people this is an unnatural exercise and all too often given up before it has become a habit. Repeat these steps until you notice it has become more automatic for you. Often, practicing these steps will take place after the moment has passed. As the skill becomes more natural you'll find that you can do it in the moment for even more effective results.
  5. Stay in the present
    Depression, regret and guilt are often about the past. Anxiety is about the future. All we have is now, so increase your focus on this moment. Simple mindfulness techniques can help you be in the moment at any given time during your day.
  6. Laugh
    Life is full of absurd, amazing and unbelievable events. Watch what goes on around you and laugh, by yourself or with others. The most effective laughter is not at another person's expense but rather genuinely at the humor of being human.

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