How do you feel when someone honks at you in traffic? When a co-worker rolls their eyes during a meeting, or a friend criticizes your choices? Feeling judged by others can make you feel insecure and fill you with self-doubt, and in the most extreme cases, even self-hatred. The same adverse reactions come when we judge ourselves.
If you look at yourself in the mirror or photos and hear nothing but negativity in your head, it’s time to turn off those voices and become your best advocate and number one raving fan. Research proves that positive self-talk has significant emotional and physical health benefits. Read on to learn what happens when you stop judging yourself harshly and start being kind.
What is Positive Self-Talk?
Self-talk is your inner dialogue and the way that your subconscious’ beliefs and ideas manifest as thoughts. Positive self-talk is a strategy to improve how you feel about yourself and how you cope with challenging situations in your life.
How Can Self-Talk Benefit Your Health?
Positivity is powerful. Optimistic, supportive, and encouraging self-talk can:
- Reduce stress and feelings of distress.
- Improve your quality of life (according to a 2010 study).
- Increase your life span.
- Reduce your risk of depression.
- Boost your body’s resistance to the common cold.
- Improve cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Improve coping skills.
Examples of Positive Self-Talk
Whether you hear these words in your mind or say them aloud in front of a mirror, self-talk is all about being supportive, complimentary, and affirming. Here is an example of positive self-talk: “I’m going to impress the HR director in my interview today. I am going to appear calm, poised, professional, and will advance to the next round of the hiring process.” Contrarily, an example of negative self-talk is as follows: “I’m going to tank at this interview today. I’ll probably embarrass myself. I shouldn’t even bother going; there’s no way they will like me.” With such harsh words, it is nearly impossible to hear negative self-talk and not let the criticism deflate your mood and depress your spirit.
How to Start Talking Positively to Yourself
Adopting positive self-talk is, unfortunately, not as easy as flipping a switch. If you have been treating yourself harshly, then you will need to train yourself to practice positive self-talk techniques.
- Start by recognizing the language, words, and phrases you hear you in your mind. Your negative self-talk may manifest itself subtly. Notice all the times you are incredibly self-critical, saying things like, “I don’t deserve to be happy,” as well as all the times you are more doubtful, by listening for keywords and phrases like, “probably shouldn’t,” “not worth it,” and “not likely.”
- Write down your observations. Does the majority of your self-talk occur when you are looking in the mirror? When you’re at the gym comparing your fitness progress with others? At work? With your family? Recognizing such trends will help you understand the root causes of your insecurity.
- Next, challenge what you’re hearing. Ask yourself why you feel the way that you do. For example, if you listen to yourself say, “We shouldn’t start a family. I’d be a terrible parent,” ask yourself why you feel that way, and what evidence there is to give you such a perception.
- Finally, flip the script. Stop negative words mid-sentence and spin them positively. Even if you don’t believe them at first and it feels forced, eventually, the positivity approach will begin to feel natural and organic.
Remember that you deserve to be your best friend and staunchest supporter. You deserve to be happy, so don’t ever let anyone tell you something different—even if that someone is you.