How you talk to yourself matters

By Protima Tiwary, A New Age Creative, Entrepreneur & Founder of The Mill

How you talk to yourself can have a big impact on how you feel about yourself.

It should come as no surprise that all of us have a little voice in our head, that voice which ensures that there is always an inner dialogue going on. This dialogue encompasses all the things that we end up telling ourselves- The good, the bad and the ugly. We might not be aware of it, but the way we are talking to ourselves has a significant impact on the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us in general. 

Words have the power to influence physical and emotional stress- it’s unfortunate that we are great at putting ourselves down, and we seldom pause to focus on the positives. Our brains have a negativity bias, i.e., attention and memory automatically focus on the negative things rather than the positive or even neutral ones. It is so easy for us to remember all the negative comments but the positive ones will be forgotten within the seconds- sounds familiar? It happens to the best of us! 

This is the reason why we indulge in so much negative self-talk: right from “I can’t do this” to stressing on “I made a mistake” we’re constantly belittling all our efforts. 

So why is it that we are constantly uplifting others but are not willing to do the same for ourselves? Do we not deserve the same level of effort and care? 

How to use positive self-talk? 

Positive self-talk does not mean deceiving ourselves- we are not denying the reality around us. All that we’re doing is complimenting ourselves for doing our best. Through positive self-talk we can show ourselves self-compassion and understanding for who we are, warts and all. 

When you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself, take a pause and ask -would I say that to my best friend, or a partner or my parent? If the answer to that is no, you should know that you need to be a little more compassionate towards yourself. 

Why does positive self-talk matter? 

The use of positive self-talk is associated with multiple benefits: 

– Enhanced self confidence

– Enhanced performance at work

– Improved ability to cope with challenges

– Reduced stress levels

– Increased emotional intelligence

– More stable social relationships

In one study published in The Sport Psychologist, researchers found that athletes use self-talk for a “cognitive and motivational” boost, while another study proves that motivational self-talk helps increase performance in young athletes. This is why daily meditation is recommended to sportspersons. Many coaches also recommend 5-10 minutes of breathing exercises and meditation after the end of a workout session- listening to yourself, identifying your thoughts and choosing your words requires consistent practice in order to make a difference. 

Examples of positive self-talk

– You are doing your best, you don’t have to be perfect

– Your kindness will always return to you in in any shape or form

– Love yourself the same way you love others.  If you don’t love yourself you have no one to love

– If you want to change the world look in the mirror and you will know where to start

– Take care of your body so your body takes care of you

– I can do this

– I am good enough

– It doesn’t matter if I make a mistake

– I can make it happen

A tip that helps positive self-talk: not only does it matter what you say to yourself but how you say it. It can be helpful to talk about yourself in third person rather than referring to yourself in first person. That slight shift can give you the emotional distance you need to process your emotions. 

If you notice that your internal dialogue is holding you back and negatively influencing your thoughts and physical health you should definitely take a pause and learn how to incorporate positive self-talk in your life. Research suggests that overtime the structure of a thalamus will also change based on your conscious words, thoughts and feelings, which is why it is imperative that your internal dialogue is constructive, supportive and motivating.

None of your thoughts are wrong; you need to focus on being encouraging, but forgiving. Acknowledge your deepest fears and shameful thoughts, but don’t let them consume you. You need to be constructive, but less critical. 

Talk to yourself like you’re someone you love.