If you’re worried this habit is a little strange, you can rest easy because talking to yourself is perfectly normal.
During a recent consultation, I asked a patient her opinion of a work situation that she was trying to solve, and her response was the following: How would I know anything? I can’t offer myself anything.
She proceeded to tell me how she has little confidence in her own thoughts and emotions, and considers the views of others as more valuable than her own.
I was shocked that a successful, intelligent, professional woman perceived herself in such negative terms.
Do you talk to yourself in such devalued ways, I asked?
It’s the only way I know how to think about and relate to myself, she responded.
(Author Brene Brown refers to those negative voices in your head as ‘gremlins.’)
As the consultation progressed, it became clear to me that an important part of my counseling with her would be helping her to change the way she talks to herself, i.e., changing her script.
Self-Talk and Why It Matters
Take a minute and think about what you’ve said to yourself today.
Was it kind? Was it helpful? Was it critical?
How did you feel after this inner discussion?
Self-talk, or your internal dialogue, can be both negative and positive. It can be encouraging and it can be distressing.
Positive self-talk is supportive and affirming. It enhances your physical and emotional well-being and helps you effectively manage stress.
Rumination is the negative side of self-talk. It’s replaying negative thoughts over and over.
In other words, not all self-talk is created equally.
Whether your inner dialogue is positive or negative, self-talk matters because it reveals your beliefs, thoughts and ideas. It is a direct reflection of how you think about and present yourself to the world.
A Personal Experience Of Positive and Negative Self-Talk
One day after a gym class years ago, my good friend suggested we run the Marine Corp Marathon that spring. I laughed and said that although I was in reasonably good shape, I probably couldn’t run even one block. And yet, within seconds and without much forethought, I heard myself saying, Sure, why not?
Then the negative thinking and self-defeating beliefs set in:
- I can’t possibly imagine myself running 26 miles.
- How will I make it beyond a mile or two?
- There is no way I can succeed at this.
I quickly figured out that if I wanted to get to the finish line, I’d better change my thought process. Here are some of the things I repeated to myself whenever I heard my inner critic:
- I feel strength and power from within.
- I stay positive and optimistic no matter what happens.
- I project confidence and energy.
- I am fully engaged in this activity.
In other words, I rechanneled my negative thoughts into inner strength and optimism. I told myself I would never ever stop persevering, never give up, never surrender. No matter how bad it got, no matter how deep the pain, the only way I could succeed was with persistence, faith in myself and positive self-talk. I could not have crossed the finish line if I remained stuck in the mud with my self-doubts. I had to convince myself I could succeed.
Your self-talk creates your reality.
Positive self-talk will improve your outlook on life, provide a better quality of life and contribute to positive health benefits
If you want to create a positive perception of yourself, it’s simple, you just have to change the way you talk to yourself.
If you have any questions, click here to schedule your initial consult.