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How to Improve Your Life with Positive Self-Talk

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

6 Practical Steps That You Can Take Right Now

 

Negative self-talk impacts your life in more ways than we can sometimes imagine. Without realizing it, we become our own worst enemies, stripping ourselves of self-confidence and peace of mind. If left unchecked, this negativity can start to affect all areas of our lives, including our health. It often leaves us worried and stressed, unable to relax.


Fixing negative self-talk is a lot easier than you think.

Use positive self-talk and follow these six practical steps that start by catching yourself in the act, and then doing something about it. Change requires that you do something different from now on. And it isn't hard at all.


 

What’s the use of positive self-talk?


Before we get to the use of positive self-talk it helps to understand what the problem is with negative self-talk in the first place. This understanding helps to identify what it is, and if negative self-talk can be fixed. Also, if negative self-talk can be fixed, maybe a little of this understanding can shed light on how it can be fixed. So let’s delve into negativity.


While it’s normal and part of human life to experience negative self-talk, it’s never without consequence. We may think that negative self-talk is just something that we think from time to time, and that it cannot have any negative side effects in our lives. But this is simply untrue, as you’ll begin to see in a moment.


Although we aim our self-directed critique to steer our lives in a positive direction, like a self-assessment of what you need to change for meaningful and positive transformation, negative self-talk is often unfair. Most times, our negative self-talk is even illogical if we start to really think it through. And the self-assessment and how we frame these thoughts as statements about ourselves are usually not even remotely, objectively, true.


Take the common examples of negativity like “I’m fat” and “I am ugly”.


Every single one of us have thought, or currently think, one or both of these (or at least some variation of these) thoughts of ourselves. But, is any of this objectively true, though?


Sure, you may be overweight now. Or maybe you were at some point in the past.


Or may be that it’s just that one of your outfits that makes you look like you’re in worse shape than another outfit does.


And sure, maybe you don’t have the beauty that you see reflected in the media. But … I know you already know what the comeback could be for this, right? If you don’t, here’s one: even the most beautiful person on earth thinks there is someone else more beautiful out there.


Since these may be silly examples, think for a moment about your own negativity lately. What is that single most recurring negative self-talk thought that you have about yourself?


I am serious, Think about one. Got one?


Now look at that thought objectively. You can if you try.


Look at that thought and see for yourself:


The truth of the matter is not that wildly negative.

Instead, the truth is that we are all simply imperfect. To some extent. We are never imperfect to the full extent that we negatively think. No, we're merely somewhat imperfect.


Because that’s really all that is always going to be true: We’re all slightly imperfect. Each in our own unique way. But that’s where the line between the objective reality and our dark fantasy lies.


So whatever negativity we hold about ourselves, assuming it is logical, objectively true enough, and fairly held, is always going to be only partly true. It’s never going to be an absolute truth in exactly the way that we imagine our negative self-talk to be true.


“I am fat” is in reality “I am not really as fat as I believe”.


Let me put it this way. Imagine you walk past someone that you love. And you overhear someone else say any one of those nasty things to that loved-one. Wouldn’t you want to correct that person and possibly give them a piece of your mind? Wouldn’t you want to defend your loved-one?


The truth is, you would.


Would your instinct be different if you walk by that same loved-one and you overhear them say those things to themselves?


The vast majority of us would take that person by the shoulders and tell them a 100 things to make themselves feel better. Not only because we’re good natured. But also because we can objectively observe what’s good about them. We’d give them all the reasons why they are actually wrong with their self-assessment.


Because we’d know what it true, what is fantasy, and where to draw the line.


Here’s the thing:


We need to be our own advocates like that. Our own best friend. Our own protector.

When we recognize the moment that we have negative self-talk, we should intervene like that. Stand up for ourselves. Yes, even against ourselves.


What we tell ourselves isn’t always necessarily fair, or accurate. We’re usually off by miles!


But so what if we’re partly wrong, if wrong at all?


Let me get to the second problem of negative self-talk.


At night, our unconscious mind tries its best to make sense of everything we experienced during the day. We know that this is often the source of our weird and wonderful dreams. However, this nightly ritual works through absolutely everything, including what we experienced without us even being aware of it at the time – i.e. those things we were aware of only subconsciously. We know that this is often a source of nightmares!


But what we don’t often think about, and therefore, what we don’t always realize, is that our own thoughts, hopes and fears are included in this process. This is where any kind of self-talk, whether good or bad, has its biggest impact on our lives. Our subconscious mind starts to accept these messages as gospel. Even when we know logically that the self-talk isn’t necessarily accurate, fair or even remotely true.


Whatever your subconscious mind accepts in this way, about the world and your place in it, whether based in reality or not, will drive how you behave and react, how you think and feel, in that world, that you create, for yourself. Your unconscious mind does not apply logic. It doesn’t question the validity of your experiences. It accepts these observations unquestioningly. Naively.



Your unconscious mind, in this way, is like a stretch of sand on a beautiful beach in which you write with foot prints.


This is all a double-edged sword, though. It’s not all bad. Because whatever is true for negative-self talk and its detrimental impact on your life, is equally true for positive self-talk.


Self-talk has a devastating effect on our lives when it’s negative. And when it is positive self-talk, its impact is amazing!

Now that you understand what the problems are with negative self-talk, you can begin to see how you can use the power of your thoughts to direct the outcome that you want, instead of fear. The outcome that you’d love, instead of hate. Of your most beautiful dreams, not your nightmares.


You can combat negative self-talk with positive self-talk.


Here's the magic part:


Even though negative self-talk is only partly true, and never 100% objectively so, and sometimes even illogical if you think about it, the negativity still impacts you mightily. But the good news is that, in in that same way, positive self-talk will have an amazing and uplifting effect, even if your positive self-talk isn't 100% objectively true or 100% logical either.

Your nightly ritual during sleep, in which your unconscious mind does its magic with experiential processing, with its childlike unquestioning innocence, it accepts positive self-talk just the same way. Your subconscious mind will process this positivity just as superbly as it has always processed any negative self-talk in the past.


And just like negative self-talk, your positive messages and thoughts will reshape your reality, reshape your behavior & reactions, your thoughts & feelings.


Your unconscious mind will continue doing this without question. And it will assimilate all of that positivity magically into your life. And that is the use of positive self-talk!


Let’s get on with the 6 practical steps that I opened with!


 

The first three steps below will put the brakes on any negative self-talk before it can gain traction. And if it’s already sprouted roots in your life, don’t worry because it’s also how you bring a flame thrower to a weed killing festival!


Write it Down


Negative self-talk changes from time to time and creep up on us if we don’t pay attention. Keeping a journal is a great way to get a handle on what you’re thinking lately. Try writing down your impressions of the day before going to bed. Doing this simple step allows you to let go of thoughts and feelings that would otherwise fester if allowed to run unchecked during sleep.


Re-reading those entries later will give you a picture of just where you were and where you are currently at. It might be you’ve been more negative lately than you thought. And when you realize that, you can deal with it proactively.


Just Say “No”


Negative self-talk don’t necessarily always creep up on us. We can usually look back and pin point when we realized something was amiss. The thing is only that, at the time, we didn’t dwell on those negative thoughts. It’s like we thought nothing of it when we spotted it at the time.


So in reality, at least some of the time, we catch ourselves in the act, when negative self-talk takes root.

Now that you are going to be more aware of this process, you will be so much better prepared to deal with negativity there and then. And you won't be surprised again.


When you catch negative self-talk in your head, your job is to stop it before negativity fully forms and festers. The moment you recognize your self-talk shifting to something less than uplifting, you need to step up and become your own best friend & protector, and say ‘no’ to it immediately.


Say the word “Stop!” out loud if you need to.


Here’s a bonus tip: chuckle a little. Because it is silly to think negative things. And silly negativity deserves a chuckle!


Snap Back


Psychologists advised this therapy for years to stop negative thoughts. Place a rubber band around your wrist. One that fits rather loosely so that you don’t cut off blood flow, ok? Then, when you spot negative self-talk, and say "Stop!", and chuckle, simply tug & snap the rubber band.


Do this every time you have a negative thought. Eventually, you’ll find yourself stopping those thoughts automatically just to avoid the ‘punishment.’


In summary, the first three steps stop negativity in its tracks, with Write!-Chuckle!-SNAP!


 

Next, try following these three steps to put positive self-talk in action:


Tone it Down


What word can you change in the negative thought to take the sting out of the self-assessment or thought?


Here are a few suggestions:


  1. Instead of ‘stupid’ you are ‘mistaken.’

  2. Instead of ‘slow’ you are ‘thoughtful.’

  3. Instead of ‘a failure’ you are ‘a learner.’


By paying attention to the extent and tone of your self-talk, you’ll automatically change the messages to the more positive. This reigns your negativity in. Brings it back from the edge of a dark fantasy closer to enlightenment and closer to objective reality. Where your self-assessment can serve its real intended positive purpose: Personal growth to become that better version of yourself.


Switch Sides


In this step you make self-assessment and positive constructive critique a game of playing devil’s advocate. Every time you find yourself making a self-assessment statement in your head, ask yourself if you can somehow reword things to make your words neutral or better yet, positive.


We have thousands of thoughts every day. And at least some of that fall within the category of self-assessment bordering on negative self-talk that we’re talking about here. Gamify this and see how many of these thoughts you can change in a day.


Bonus tip: Make note of these in your journal too. It’s interesting to reflect back on these changes over time to identify changing or repeating patterns.


Question Everything


My last step for you is simple. Instead of listening to negative assumptions, turn them into questions.


For example, thinking “That’s impossible” can become “How can I make that possible?”


Questions look for solutions while statements are pre-judgmental & decisive on what the outcome is.


 

By tracking what you do and acting with intention to change your situation, you’ll discover life looks different. You will feel more relaxed. More in control. You’ll begin to really embrace optimism. You will like yourself a lot more. It is here where you will start discovering just how amazing your potential have always been.


And as a direct result, negativity will affect you less and less.


 

Suggested Further by Reading


Check out these gems available on Amazon. Note that Woodbridge Hypnosis earns from your qualifying purchases. And to earn from your qualifying purchase, I make a little effort to curate the list, find the image and text for your ease of browsing. I trust you find this in order. However, these books may be available at your local bookstore or library. And if not, find anything else that may be on topic!


Open the list to find out more about each. Click the image to buy it on Amazon.

1. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life


Psychcentral.com has this to say about this book & author:


"This is a one-size-fits-all mindfulness handbook that will teach you the concepts, get you started with exercises, and sit on your bedside table as a welcome reference. The chapters are short and self-contained, so you can dip in wherever you want.


It was written by author and mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1994 and has remained a bestseller and classic. Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979, which was then associated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


He has written many other mindfulness books, the best-known one being “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness,” which is full of research and recommended applications. It’s the book that ushered mindfulness into medical and scientific circles.


This shorter book [Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life] is directed to a wider audience and is meant to provide a “brief and easy access to the essence of mindfulness,” Kabat-Zinn writes. “Full Catastrophe Living” is directed toward people with serious medical problems, stress, and chronic pain.


You can also purchase the accompanying “Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 2” audiobook or audio CD containing mindfulness exercises narrated by Kabat-Zinn designed to complement the book."


2. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

3. How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness


 

I am passionate for small changes like these that we can make in our lives with great positive impact. I think of small steps as MicroHabits.

And if you're yearning for transformation, check out my ebook here!



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